1. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Good Ol' List O' Openings

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by colorthemap, Nov 10, 2011.

    Do you have any favorite openings to stories or novels? Do you have any that you like, that you have written?

    My most recent opening, that I wrote, is: "It hadn't always been there, on the wall."

    Although I've never read David Copperfield, GASP, I do like its opening: "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."
     
  2. Fishstic
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    Fishstic New Member

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    "I cannot believe that I am standing in the exact spot where I was standing when I killed my mother." Mary Higgens Clark, No Place Like Home.

    I was drawn into reading that book after reading that first line on the internet.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Miserables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn't seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, "Be My Baby" on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so.

    American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis...the greatest opening sentence ever committed to paper...
     
  4. SnappyUK
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    SnappyUK Member

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    "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." From Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn."

    - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

    I love this because it says so much about both Cohn and the narrator in so few words. Hemingway was a master at that - establishing character with incredible efficiency.


    "He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam-Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher - the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum. Who hold Zam-Zammah, that 'fire-breathing dragon', hold the Punjab, for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror's loot.
    There was some justification for Kim - he had kicked Lala Dinanath's boy off the trunnions - since the English held the Punjab and Kim was English. Though he was burned black as any native; though he spoke the vernacular by preference, and his mother tongue in a clipped uncertain sing-song; though he consorted on terms of perfect equality with the small boys of the bazaar; Kim was white - a poor white of the very poorest."

    - Rudyard Kipling, Kim

    Kipling's prose is electrifying to me. He delivers amazing color and vividness in his narratives, and the opening of Kim is a prime example of this talent. I was roped in immediately by this when I first read it at the age of twenty or so, and Kipling has been one of my favorite writers ever since.
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    this is one my favourite opening line for a play I was thinking of developing
    'I said you COULD have look I didn't say you could LOOK.

    it was a take or in paralled with the Hamlet 'to be or not to be'

    and then I remembered: Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet

    so I thought I would bring my take updated it in a similar fashion to give it a twist and so this its
    looking is an art and you've only got an eye.

    another one I picked I cannot remember the actual book it was a long time ago ;

    abondon all ships and run for your masters!!
    one of the funniest lines ever to have been bestowed upon my very eyes(talk about laughing at my own jokes hey;))
    it came to me as I was staring my opening line short story in parrallel writing with the story of the old man and the sea
     
  7. Lisa-Marie Dutt
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    Lisa-Marie Dutt New Member

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    No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

    - War Of The Worlds
     
  8. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palette to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita."
    --Vladimir Nabokov, opening to Lolita

    Read it aloud. The rhythm! Exquisite.

    Fun topic, btw! I love reading these.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Topeka Sal, that's an excellent example! I would have included it myself, but it slipped my mind.

    I also like this one:

    "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
    - Introibo ad altare Dei.
    Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called up coarsely:
    - Come up, Kinch. Come up, you fearful jesuit."

    - James Joyce, opening of Ulysses
     
  10. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    "Gordon Edgley's sudden death came as a shock to everyone-not least himself." Beautifully written. It can't compare to the exotic, rich imagery of the Rudyard Kipling quote above, or the "roll that name in your tongue"-ness rhythm of Lolita, but that plain, bald statement-direct and concise-captured me and pulled me in. The following sentences state the circumstances of his death in a way that flows and verges on infodump without being infodump.

    It just goes to show that a children's/teenager's book can be well written.
     
  11. Lavender Soda
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    Lavender Soda Member

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    I've always liked "It was a dark and stormy night.."
     
  12. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    The ORIGINAL "It was a dark and stormy night" opening was actually pretty good(it establishes setting and weather, plus sprinkles bits of description, in the space of a few short sentences).
     
  13. cruciFICTION
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    Opening line to my current novel:
    "I could not be certain of anything in my life until he visited. The night was young, the moon was waxing, and there was a certain ambience that preceded his entry to my bedroom."

    The opening line to a short story I wrote last year:
    "There is silence, there is darkness. A pregnant moon stares down from the sky, its timeless face shrouded in a light mist. There are few clouds, few stars. The sky is coloured a deep purple, and it is nearly two o’clock in the morning."

    My favourite opening line to a published work?
    "The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed."
    From Stephen King's The Gunslinger.
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    AGREE, that is a great example.

    Me too :)
     
  15. Pellshek
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    Pellshek New Member

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    "This is the saddest story I have ever heard."
    - Ford Maddox Ford, The Good Soldier.

    Julian Barnes explains:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jun/07/fiction.julianbarnes

    ...........

    "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
    - Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

    I suppose we don't need an article to explain what's so great about this.
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm.
    "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."​
    I'm not sure it's a great piece of writing.
     
  17. muscle979
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    That's my favorite as well.
     
  18. Pythonforger
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    I said it was pretty good. Not the best opening ever, but still pretty good.

    An (edited) version of an old story of mine(not posted here), Sixty Four Squares of Black and White:"The dead people lined up in a row, their backs against the cold stone wall."
     
  19. rainshine
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    rainshine Senior Member

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    There was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. James Joice Dubliners

    There was a large brilliant evning star in the early twighlight, and underfoot the earth was half frozen. It was christmas eve. Aarons Rod DH Lawrence.
     
  20. Fishstic
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    Now what's that you wanted to hear? Why am I lying in the mud at a ditch bleeding?

    From novel I am writing
     
  21. Raki
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    Ditto.
     
  22. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    "It was a pleasure to burn." Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
     

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