5 Ways of Writing an Opening Line: Famous Authors to the Rescue!

The First Line

When a reader starts exploring a novel, short story or an essay, it may resemble the judging process at a talent show. You have a couple of minutes to impress the picky audience and you won`t have a second chance. So, these two or three sentences that are going to open the gate to the world of your creative mind have to be quite captivating, interesting, and memorable.

An opening line is a big deal. When we`re talking about more open-minded and free-spirited types of work when you need to show the way your imagination works, then it`s even more important than the whole introduction passage. An opening line is like a hook, and there is no excuse for underestimating its power.

Of course, it`s not uncommon when a writer can spend days coming up with a solid first sentence in order to get that “wow” effect. If your creative juices have been acting more like still water lately, then you could definitely use some help from a professional website which will gladly help you to drop off some ideas on improving your essay. The only thing needed is a request like “edit my paper”, and you`ll immediately find a way out.

We`ve gathered some examples of classic and modern literature to show you the most interesting and impressive ways to start your story.

The First One and the Last One

When your opening line mirrors the last sentence of the whole story or essay, it gives the reader a sense of closure. Such a trick creates a frame for your essay, making it more sophisticated and well-thought-out. It may seem that this literary method leaves your audience with no questions because you`ve answered them all, but it`s just an illusion. In reality, it makes the readers dive into the hidden meaning. Preferably, this type of opening line should have a metaphorical vibe which won`t be pointing out to the obvious meaning or the plot itself, it will just provide the food for thought.

Once I was writing an article for women on how to understand European football. The beginning of this guide sounded like that. “What is the most important thing you should know about football? Every man can tell you that it is not just a sport, it is an art, an entire religion and philosophy. If you remember that phrase and repeat it to a stranger at the bar, a bouquet of flowers will be in your hands”.

I decided to use this trick from famous authors and ended up my writing with such words: “That game brings people together, and it’s the main point. If you lose, you’re not alone. If you win, behind you stand thousands of people whom you can celebrate the victory with. That is why football is the art of belief, the philosophy of battle, and the religion of power”.

You can spot a brilliant example of the first and the last sentence in “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis. The author plays with the words “enter” and “exit” at the beginning and at the end, showing a mirroring effect. While you`re already there, read the whole book, you`ll learn a lot more writing tricks from there.

Reality Turned Fiction

When you`re writing an essay on real historical events, for example, you should try avoiding too dry, official style. If it`s an academic paper, then, of course, a standardized narrative is a must, but an essay provides you with more creative opportunities. Instead of writing “Cleopatra is a queen of Egypt who ruled and blah, blah, blah”, you can write something like this: “Cleopatra was pacing back and forth in her palace thinking about the future of her kingdom”. Don`t mind me, it`s just a suggestion. If you want to see how Pulitzer-winning journalists are pulling this off, you may check out “A Mob Killing and Flawed Justice” by Alissa J. Rubin.

What Is Your Favorite Name?

What is your least favorite name? You`ll have to pick one because depending on positive or negative personality traits of your main character, you`ll have to come up with their names. What is more, you`ll have to start with a name. This opening line will make your audience be personally attached to the story, they`ll have a feeling like they`ve met that Miranda or Alice girl.

Besides, a name may have so many hidden meanings! They can represent power, beauty, honesty. Use this peculiarity. Where can you see some examples? “The Stand” by Stephen King starts with “Sally”, in “Family Furnishings” Alice Munro chose the name Afrida to start the story.

A Direct Order

How often do you get a chance to order a group of people and expect them to listen to you? It can be rather tricky when a person you`re trying to command is the professor who is going to read your essay. It`s great when your work evokes strong emotions and even encourages a certain action. For example, it may start like this: “Open up your eyes and see” or “Listen to your heart”. Got it? Those commands don`t have to sound that authoritative, more like thought-provoking. “Guts” by Chuck Palahniuk will provide you with a great example. The story starts with the author`s order (or, perhaps, a request): “Inhale”.

Simplicity Is the Key

A short sentence, that leaves more questions than answers, gets the readers hooked. The following phrases may be heating up the atmosphere of intrigue, but an opening line plays the main role here. Let`s address Alice Munro`s work one more time. Her “Floating Bridge” starts with “One time she had left him”. Even if you`re not into love stories, you still get interested because the story may turn out to be about anything in the world and this is captivating. It can be a murder case, a fantastic fairy tale or just a very realistic life story.


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