Top Ten Opening Lines in Fiction

 I was starting a blog post, and wondering exactly what I should start it with, and that got me thinking about opening lines. Then I started remembering and repeating and laughing over some of my favorite first lines. So, in no particular order, ten of my favorite opening lines in fiction.


“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” —C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader  This quote is just wonderful. It’s something to be said when you’re in the elevator with strangers and there is that awkward, smiling silence. It’s funny, it’s cute, and it grabs your attention.

“This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.” – William Goldman,  The Princess Bride Sorry, sir, but I’m not sure I want you reviewing my book if I ever write one.

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?” E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web This quote sounds sort of familiar, if you cut out the ax part. I’m pretty sure this is said every time anyone goes out the door at my house.

“The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.”-Marissa Meyer, Cinder That sounds awful. Poor girl, just like a little Cinderella.

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, he told me, just remember that all the people in the world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”–F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby  This quote is unique in that it doesn’t grab your attention because it is funny, or strange, or curious. It grabs your attention because it is profound and thought-provoking, and also makes you wonder where exactly this story is going. It was in the fiction section, right?

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” –J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to live underground.

“The Austrian horses glinted in the moonlight, their riders standing tall in the saddle, swords raised.”-Scott Westerfield, Leviathan I’ve never had a horse, but I’ve also never heard anyone describe a horse as “glinting in the moonlight.” Also, did we just get plunged right into the middle of a battle? 

“It was a dark and stormy night.”Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time This is so awful it’s great. Sometimes, when I’m starting a new story, I’ll write this sentence just to get past the cursor blinking on the empty white page. 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice Ha ha, self-explanatory. Didn’t think you’d get through this post without seeing that, did you?

Let’s chat!

What are some of your favorite opening lines? Even better, what do you say in awkward elevator silence?

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21 thoughts on “Top Ten Opening Lines in Fiction

  1. Lovely post Grace!!!! ✨💞 I’ve just stumbled upon your blog & am loving it – you must be new to the blogosphere? If so, then that’s so exciting & welcome to the world of blogging 💚!
    I really liked the first & last opening lines – the first as it nearly made me laugh (😂) and the last because, well, it’s Pride or Prejudice for goodness sake! Can’t wait to see more posts, Autumn x

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  2. What a cool idea, Grace! I might just have to steal it. xD If you don’t mind?

    Also, that William Goldman one. XD I’ve never heard it before, but it crack me up!

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  3. I love The Great Gatsby’s opening line. It is also my favorite classic book of all time. “All this happened, more or less.” is also one quote I love to death. It’s from Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it! I just discovered your blog and I’m so happy that I did! Great post 🤗

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    • The Great Gatsby is such a unique and wonderful book. I haven’t read Slaughterhouse Five, so I’ll have to check it out. Thank you for the recommendation and your comment!
      -Grace

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  4. I must of course include Daphne du Maurier’s famous first line from Rebecca: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Oh, Manderley! If you enjoy Gothic novels, such as those by Shirley Jackson, I recommend it.

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    • I haven’t read Rebecca yet, but it’s on my list! I haven’t read many Gothic novels, but the ones I have (Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, etc.) I enjoyed. Thank you for your comment and the recommendation!

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      • You’re welcome. And this would be one instance in which I would recommend you watch the movie first to heighten the whole experience. Alfred Hitchcock directed a spectacular version of Rebecca starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier.

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