Favorite Opening Lines plus a chance to win Lauren Oliver’s Delirium!

Vanessa Morton writes:

My favorite books are those with a stunning opening line. I want the words to grab me by the shoulders and pull me into an engrossing story, like these from Alexa Privet’s The Ophaedron.

When Septimus Mawbry was a very young lad among the living, his parents were stolen through an ancient mirror by a woman who wore a gown of woven emeralds.

Privet’s opening line raises several delicious questions: if Septimus is no longer among the living, what happened? And who is that woman wearing a gown of woven emeralds? And why did she steal his parents? I need to know more.

Then there’s this opening from Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

Delirium copy

It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.

Love is now a disease to be eradicated? Really? And what is this “cure?” Tell me more!

A clever opening lets you know you’re in good hands, so sit down and strap in for a great ride. Lauren Oliver’s book delivered with pages of beautiful language and world-building. See my complete review here.
What’s your favorite opening line and why? Share it with us by leaving a comment below, and your name will be put in a hat. If you sign up to follow this blog or share this post on Facebook, your name will be put in twice. One lucky winner will be drawn from the hat on November 1st, and will receive a digital copy of Delirium.

If you want to leave a comment, click on the title of this post, then scroll to the bottom for the comment box!

16 thoughts on “Favorite Opening Lines plus a chance to win Lauren Oliver’s Delirium!

  1. From CONVICTION by Richard North Patterson: In fifty-nine days, if the state of California had its way, the man in the Plexiglas booth would die by lethal injection.

    It posed so many questions, and I can’t seem to forget this one.


    • Another excellent line. I can’t resist the ticking clock device. 59 days? I’d definitely need to read on and find out what happened!


  2. Love reading intriguing, tell-me-more-quick opening lines! Wish they were as easy and enjoyable to write as they are to read! 🙂


    • That is so true, Beth. As writers, how many times have we re-written that first line? A colleague once said that first-line rewrites are like getting ready for a first date. You keep changing clothes until you’re convinced you can WOW the other person. 🙂


  3. How about 2 lines?

    In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

    I haven’t read Delirium yet, but it’s been on my radar for a long time. One day soon…so much to read, so little time.


  4. Lisa, great opening. Classic lines never go out of style! (and neither do hobbits)


  5. Opening lines don’t grab me. I always read the last page to see how it ends. If I don’t like how it ends I don’t waste my time reading the rest of the book. If I do….. well, I enjoy a really good read. And no I don’t care if you tell me the end of the movie, it really won’t ruin it for me. But if you have to know my all time favorite book opening line, ” In the beginning…..” and yes, I did read the end first.


  6. Betty, you had me at “In the beginning . . . ” Without a doubt the all-time best opening line. Well done!


  7. “A white Pomeranian named Fluffy flew out of a fifth-floor window in Panna, which was a brand new building with the painter’s scaffolding still around it.”

    This is the opening line from Vikram Chandra’s sacred games. The opening line has it all — imagery, action, active voice. And of course, a fluffy dog named Fluffy.


    • That intriguing first line had me going to Amazon to take a sneak peek–it’s now on my TBR list. I am always intrigued by stories set in the rich culture of India. Thanks for sharing!


  8. “In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost.”

    This is the opening line from Dante Alighieri’s ‘Divine Comedy’. It was a required reading in high school, prefaced with a groan – what teen wants to read about a man’s journey through hell? Fortunately, I had a fabulous Lit teacher who would not allow us to simply muddle through it and brought the piece to life. Many times I have found myself ‘in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost’ – Dante’s triumph is a soul deep inspiration.


    • I loved Dante in high school, too! That line is ominous, yet still hopeful. Wonder how long he worked on those words until he felt they were perfect?

      From the same work, I never forgot “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Still gives me the chills. Thanks for sharing that Kimberley!


  9. “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.” – Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone

    Also, “In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.” – Howl’s Moving Castle

    I like lines that immediately portray the whimsy in the story – that set the tone instantly – rather than just being an exciting hook. But truthfully, the best lines don’t tend to even register because I get sucked into the story so fast. 🙂


  10. Sparks of Ember, when I get sucked in, I read to the end so quickly that I have to go back and read it over, more s-l-o-w-l-y 🙂

    So few people know about Howl’s Moving Castle! I’m thrilled to find another afficionado (Sophie is one of my all-time favorite heroines).


    • lol – when things get exciting, I start reading so fast that I think I must have skipped something so I catch myself rereading the same paragraph 2 or 3 times, then the next paragraph I do the same thing.

      And I love everything by Diana Wynne Jones but Howl’s Moving Castle is my favorite! You’re right – there are too few of us afficionados out there!


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