• Great Beginnings: Yours!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Great Beginnings     Comments 68 comments

    (To get to the point, skip to the bolded section.)

    I’m just about to undertake my inaugural reading of Mary Shelley’s classic monster novel, Frankenstein. Consider it an attempt to get into the holiday spirit. And/or a result of our recent binge-watch of Penny Dreadful. And/or I have a number of trusted friends who consider this to be among the best books they’ve ever read, and I’m suffering from this very specific brand of FOMO. Call it FOMOOF.

    Anyway. The first line made me think it’d be a great candidate for Great Beginnings. It makes the reader ask about seventeen different questions, which is a wonderful way to ensure that he/she will read the second line.

    But rather than turn this week’s post into a discussion of Romantic/gothic literature — and in the spirit of the somewhat communal setting of the story’s conception — we thought it would be more fun to turn it into a celebration of two of our favorite things: Opening lines and you.

    Do you have your own Great Beginning that you’d like to share with us and our readers, a particularly interesting or creative or funny or vivid opening line to a book or a story? It can be from something you’ve already published or from something you wrote this morning. We don’t care, as long as it’s the very first line.

    Type or paste your Great Beginning in the comments section below. Include any relevant information you think we need to know, or let the line stand on its own. And don’t forget to tick “notify” so you’ll be alerted when someone responds.

    And in the spirit of “take a penny, leave a penny,” let’s all give each other some feedback on those great beginnings, too. Let a fellow writer know what it is that makes his or her great beginning so great.

    I don’t want to turn this into a contest, so rather than choose a winner, I’ll just say this: Here at year’s end, we have lots of good books to give away. If you leave your great beginning, or respond to someone else’s, your name goes into a drawing. Let’s say once for each comment. Next week, I’ll pick some names and send some books.

    So, what brave soul would like to be the first to post? Remember: To every great book there is a great beginning*. Let’s see yours!



    *OK, OK: To most great books there is a great beginning.

    David LinkedFULLWriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and has written for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”


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    Jenna Montes

    They think I’m dead.


    That makes for an interesting first line. It makes me wonder. Why do they think the character is dead? What has happened to them?


    Same questions. And is the character wounded, maybe? In bad shape? Or has this character made herself disappear? Like those people (if they exist) who walked away from the Twin Towers and just kept walking, right out of their own lives.

    I like it, and would want to know more.


    The stars shone brightly over the Mountains of Fire as the darkened moon did not shine this moonless night.


    I’m wondering if the darkened moon is a sign of some kind of approaching evil. And if the Mountains of Fire are as ominous as they sound.

    Either way, I’m reading more.


    If you want to read more, I am currently working on this book on Wattpad. It’s titled “Fallen Fire”

    Barbara Mealer

    It hadn’t been a pleasant day and the evening had deteriorated into unbearable. This is the opening line to the novel I’m editing at the moment. The initial blurb for the book tentatively name “The Jillian Factor” is: When a vacation with her family results in an unexpected return to work after discovering the body of the man she was investigating, 24-year-old private detective, Jillian Potter, follows the clues, reluctantly working with detective, Thomas Wellington. The clues lead them to the ring of criminals Jill has been attempting to break and bring to justice since she was twenty. The situation… Read more »


    I like anything where what is already bad, at the beginning, gets worse. I would keep reading. Good stuff, Barbara.


    The Tillamook Wave roared westward on Highway 26, and in seat number 5, Terry peered out the rain streaked window at the gray and green landscape, his mind clouded over with second thoughts about his dream of leaving Portland behind him for greener pastures at a hippie commune called Tillahatchet.


    I’m wondering when it’s set (60’s, because of “hippie commune”?), what’s so bad about Terry’s life, and what’s possibly so *good* about Terry’s life that he’s hving some second thoughts.


    He he he! Want to know more? You need to read the rest of the story! You asked for the very first line. If this doesn’t make you want to read more, put the book down.


    You remember what she’s like.

    Lisa Michener

    It was the splash of his body hitting the water that brought the passengers running to the side of the ship.


    The worst part about waiting was that you never knew how long you were going to be waiting.

    Scott McClelland

    This places me somewhere and it’s active. Waiting is something we can all relate to, and it offers a great place to reveal the many thoughts that go through the mind while waiting. I want to know more. Well done.

    Sandy Murphy

    It was 1862, and dusk threw pinks and corals through the trees as she heard the stillness broken by the sound of horses nearby.


    Pretty imagery. Love period pieces. More!



    Your done! You’ll never work in this town again, and everyone knows you’ve got styrofoam tits!


    It is you’re, not your.



    Your done! You’ll never work in this town again, and everyone knows you’ve got styrofoam tits!

    Scott McClelland


    When I came to, the clock in the pawnshop window said five after five. LaShonda, a part-time hooker and full-time cunt, was rifling through my pockets.

    (Sincere apologies to anyone was offended by this.)


    Sounds like Christmas with my in-laws. I’d read on.

    Scott McClelland

    Wow. Could you post a video from the upcoming holiday weekend?


    Check out any random reality show recording and you have a general idea. New Year’s would blow your mind. Just kidding. Were you? Now back to your interesting book idea…keep going.

    Liz Lipski

    It’s late. But it’s early. I’m asleep. But I’m awake. You are here. But you are not.

    Kenneth Harris

    Throughout his young life, Reggie had wrestled with two of life’s thorniest issues; startlingly good looks and a startlingly large trust fund.

    Jerry Schwartz

    The woman fell flat on her face. Drinks flew in all directions.

    That’s the opening of my novella “The Fall.” I might have cheated a little, because I can’t make up my mind if it works better as one sentence or two.

    Jerry Schwartz

    Thanks for the insight. I’m always afraid my prose is too orotund, so I’ve been making a concerted effort to break up my sentences. I don’t think I like the results.


    Opening to “HEAT,” a Dystopian Novel regarding Global Warming, now out of control. A millennium of neglect, stupidity, arrogance compiled with centuries of human greed had now created a cycle of end for the majority of mankind and the unfortunate planet they’d made a parasitic home upon for years. It was the quintessential decree of “man’s inhumanity to man.” Not only to himself but to the giving, sheltering home he’d resided on and had taken so much from in those times past. A once beautiful, clean and gifted home that gave subsistence and prosperity was now pillaged, raped and ruined.… Read more »

    John Liebling

    I am David Sagacious; an amplified cacophony signals my arrival. Here! In this pre-Universe…Am I the cause or effect? Am I every Blast! Bellow! Rip! Eruption! Sizzle! Ripple! Reverberation! Screech of augmented White Noise?

    This is the start of my prologue. Two weeks ago, I started my third draft of my almost 110,000 word novel – Titled: David Sagacious: That’s Life

    I’ve just started working with my WriteByNight coach: Tom Andes He is helpful. I am enjoying the process.

    Billy Abbott

    The captain,his long naked tail with a tuff of brown fur at the end moved with the roll of the ship, as a wave passed under. He could hear rear paws padding from the quaterdeck above. His forepaws rested at his side, he gazed out the strine Windows that ran the whole length of his day cabin at the wake the frigate made in the shake blue sea.

    jan canyon

    I want to read the rest of this!

    Billy Abbott

    Thanks for the comment. The captain is a brown furred gerbil. He is like Horatio Horeblower an officer in the Royal Navy.


    Count me in! I was thinking it sounded a bit like Stuart Little, then I read your description and was instantly hooked. The rodent threw me off. Mice have naked tails; gerbil tails are completely furred. Please finish this book!!

    Ken Helsley

    Rosa Maria Diaz was a stunningly beautiful young woman who was born in the Mexican city of Calera in the State of Chihuahua in 1979. Her father, Pablo Emmanuel Diaz, was a skilled carpenter. But Pablo also had an unusual love for books, especially the classics, and owned the largest privately owned library in all of Chihuahua. In 1984, Pablo’s cousin, Hector Diaz Ruiz, also a carpenter, convinced him to go together to the US, where they would take their share of the American dream. But as illegals, steady work was hard to find, and one night in 1985, after… Read more »

    Ken Helsley

    Thank you David. That means a lot coming from someone with as much talent as you.


    ” Just take off everything and put this gown on” I was told by the bored assistant. First line of my medical thriller.

    Mark Waters

    At midnight, the grandfather clock announced the time.— first line in my latest, Suicide by Death

    Richard Apfel

    As I left the motel, beads of sweat were already forming on my forehead from the early morning sun.

    Mark Waters

    At midnight, the grandfather clock announced the time. It was old, worn and grossly out-of-tune, but never missed a beat. Ding, dong, — clang. It repeated itself twelve times representing each hour. Trying to compete with the noise, the young mother’s wailing cries echoed throughout the house. “Curtis! Wake up! My water broke!” Startled, her husband woke from a deep, restful sleep. The sound of the clock with its irritating melody, combined with yells from his wife, confused him in his state of absolute tranquility. In the near dark, he tried to untangle himself from the covers to rescue whatever… Read more »

    Mark Waters

    Sorry, Richard, I’m new at this and replied under the wrong one and don’t know how to undo it, but I did like your piece and curious about more of it.

    Mark Waters

    I always loved this, it is the first line from my first book still unpublished. “This is a fiction, but most of it is true.”

    Stella Pinney

    The breeze that parted the curtains carried the soothing sent of the ocean as it allowed the sun to land on the bed and warm my hand. I tried to open my eyes to see the sun drenched room.

    Betty R Garcia

    “Later, when they asked her how she had survived the fire, Izel couldn’t tell them.”

    […] week, a whole lot of you banded together to share the opening lines from your works-in-progress and give each other some encouragement. It made me happy. Like a warm, fuzzy community sort of […]

    Eleanor Gamarsh

    Sharing with other writers anytime keeps me on the write path. It’s lonely out here in front of this screen. There are people’s photos that make me smile, some are awesome while others make me wonder about who’s behind them. But then when anyone of them comments on any note I wrote, loneliness dissipates. Their appreciation for some simple words I left behind after “Enter” that they enjoyed, validated myself every day.

    Jesslyn Sophia Chain

    “All you’ve gotta do is let go…” he chuckles mercifully as he watched the paralyzed figure before him.

    Jesslyn Sophia Chain

    Haha, my bad. It’s all in past tense. Chuckled*


    As the ferry slowly rumbled away from the dock, I could still see many of the lights from the waterfront of the city that we had just left glowing upon the rippling waves.

    Andrew Sheridan Johnson

    I forget the distance it once took
    To go into that night
    And never come back
    Until those mornings
    I awoke to remember.


    I couldn’t overlook to do this…., it would be a shame to miss doing this one. Only I had too many to choose from, it was an overwhelming mess, but then I remembered one I could kick myself for forgetting (temporarily).

    “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. ”

    -never wrong with any of Marquez openings, this one above of course is from One Hundred Years Of Solitude.


    Really great. I have that book but haven’t yet read it. Makes me want to go grab it! Excellent choice, Lagarto.

    Andrea Fewkes

    “Sarah, can you hear me?” I tried to open my eyes slowly but all I could see were bright and blurry flashes of light.


    I was having a horrible day, then I got kidnapped.

    […] version: As a bookend to our “Great Beginnings: Yours!” post, we invite you to leave in the comments section the last line or lines or your […]

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