While writing an Albie Edwards short story, the importance of the impact of the first line has been foremost in my mind.
The few famous examples that came to mind were short, simple, and caught my interest. I wanted to explore the significance a string of well-chosen words could have on a whole story.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
I never knew her in life. James Ellroy, The Black Dahlia
Death is my beat. Michael Connelly, The Poet
Now, I am aware that first lines of novels or stories do not all need to be short and snappy to be effective, but they do need to grab the reader enough that they continue to read, and preferably cannot put the book down.
I decided to revisit a handful of crime novels I’ve read and enjoyed, to focus specifically on the first line from each book and record them below.
Would you be enticed to continue reading these books after reading their opening lines?
From the moment the cupboard door was slammed shut, trapping them inside, she knew something was different. Rachel Abbott, The Back Road
For a few seconds after the petrol tank goes up, the woods are shocked into silence. Mark Billingham, From the Dead
‘They say it’s like slicing through warm butter, when you cut into young flesh.’ Sharon Bolton, Like this, For Ever
On the day the first woman died, Mark Roper had car trouble. Stephen Booth, Dancing with the Virgins
It was the smell Mrs Powell noticed first. Slightly sweet. Slightly unpleasant. Minette Walters, The Echo
Okay, I cheated on the final opener, it consists of three short sentences, but it’s still a cracker.
Now for the line that begins the new DS Albie Edwards short story.
“When did you see your first dead body?”
Kimberley Shead, Buried Memories
Has this first line intrigued you?
Would you like to further explore the story?
Keep visiting the blog to catch teasers leading up to the story release. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Readers Group to receive updates and be guaranteed a free copy of Buried Memories on its release.
If you have favourite first lines from books you’ve read, please share in the comments below.
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