Some people can read just about anything. Pages of backstory. Lots of description. Paragraphs of sittin’ and thinkin’.
But not me. I’m one of those readers who has ADD when reading books. If I’m not grabbed in those first few paragraphs, or at least by the first page or two, the book I’m reading is history. I didn’t always used to be this way, but over time I’ve discovered that I have little patience to get drawn into a story. That doesn’t mean that action has to occur right on page one, like bullets flying or things exploding, but a great opening paragraph or page has to scream READ ME! Of course, this is a very subjective thing but it’s one that has, over time, limited the number of books that end up on my bookshelf. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
So in honor of some great opening paragraphs, I’m going to share what are, I think, terrific story grabbers. Opening sentences that made me sit up, take notice and want to read more. All rights belong to the authors below. I’m simply sharing them here because I think they’re just so damned great.
Robert Crais, Stalking the Angel
I was standing on my head in the middle of my office when the door opened and the best looking woman I’d seen in three weeks walked in. She stopped in the door to stare, then remembered herself and moved aside for a grim-faced man who frowned when he saw me. A sure sign of disapproval. The woman said, “Mr. Cole, I’m Jillian Becker. This is Bradley Warren. May we speak with you?”
Michael Crichton, Timeline
He should never have taken that shortcut.
Dan Baker winced as his new Mercedes S500 sedan bounced down the dirt road, heading deeper into the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona. Around them, the landscape was increasingly desolate: distant red mesas to the east, flat desert stretching away in the west. Thay had passed a village half an hour earlier–dusty houses, a church and a small school, huddled against a cliff–but since then, they’d seen nothing at all, not even a fence. Just empty red desert. They hadn’t seen another car for an hour. Now it was noon, the sun glaring down on them. Baker, a forty-year-old building contractor in Phoenix, was beginning to feel uneasy. Especially since his wife, an architect, was one of those artistic people who wasn’t practical about things like gas and water. His tank was half empty. And the car was starting to run hot.
Harlan Coben, Tell No One
There should have been a dark whisper in the wind. Or maybe a deep chill in the bone. Something. An ethereal song only Elizabeth or I could hear. A tightness in the air. Some textbook premonition. There are misfortunes we almost expect in life–what happened to my parents, for example–and then there are other dark moments, moments of sudden violence, that alter everything. There was my life before the tragedy. There is my life now. The two have painfully little in common.
Jennifer Crusie, Fast Women
The man behind the cluttered desk looked like the devil, and Nell Dysart figured that was par for her course since she’d been going to hell for a year and a half anyway. Meeting Gabriel McKenna just meant she’d arrived.
JR Ward, Dark Lover
Darius looked around the club, taking in the teeming, half-naked bodies on the dance floor. Screamer’s was packed tonight, full of women wearing leather and men who looked like they had advanced degrees in violent crime.
Darius and his companion fit right in.
Except they actually were killers.
So what about you? What are some of your favorite authors who have written some amazing, attention-grabbing first paragraphs? I’d love to know.
Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved · TerriPonce.com
Okay, I’ve got one.
Mary Stewart, The Moonspinners.
First paragraph :
“Nothing ever happens to me.”
I was immediately piqued knowing full well the main character was about to wish she never said that or that she’d touched wood after she did.
I wasn’t disappointed as the book launched the character and me into a web of treachery and ancient lore with picturesque Greece as the backdrop.
Mr first Introduction to the author and I now own every book she wrote.
Yep, that pretty much opens up a can of worms!
I get so distracted when I’m reading. That’s why it takes so long for me to finish reading anything. I call myself a slow reader, but I’m really a distracted reader who thinks about what I’m reading to the point that my mind continually wanders.
I also have a bad memory. I can’t remember any particularly good book beginnings.
Hmm. I have to admit that reading is the one place I don’t get distracted. TV? Yes. Movies? Yes. Someone else talking to me? Yes. But never with a book. I wonder what that says…
124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims. –Beloved by Toni Morrison
Wow. That sounds dark. And really really intriguing!
Beloved is such an amazing story, brilliant and dark and so terribly moving.
I am thoroughly distressed by this blog post… because it’s going to take me some time to track down the books you quoted, and until then these beginnings are going to be nagging at me! So brilliant–especially the Stalking the Angel one. I simultaneously want to curse you and thank you for posting these.
I think my favorite first line is from Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris: “Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.”
Fabulous opening line, Kat!e. And one I definitely should check out. Glad I could interest you in some other reads. There’s some really great stuff out there and it’s hard to read it all!
I know, isn’t it? It sticks in my mind because I always wish I’d written it!
“To say I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.” Deanna Raybourn, Silent in the Grave
Oh man, that’s a really good one, Lynn. Thanks for sharing!