Are you a sucker for a great opening line? Do you go through the books at Barnes and Noble and read the first opening paragraph before you decide to buy it?
Romance novels of all genres have a hook designed to draw the reader in to a story. Some authors pull them off with aplomb:
“Where was she and where the hell were her clothes?” from Awaken to Danger by Catherine Mann.
Yes, you are going to read on and find out where her clothes are (or aren’t!), right?
A great opening line will draw the reader in, almost forcing them to see what happens next. And then what. And then what again? A good author will keep writing hooks throughout the story until the reader enters a zombie state around 3am and is fairly unfit for work the next day with a reader’s hangover.
Now compare that to the winner of the 2013 Bulwer-Lytton contest for the worst first line:
“She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination.” From Chris Wieloch, Brookfield, WI
Brings quite the visual to mind doesn’t it. But would you continue reading?
This line, by Julie Garwood in Honor’s Splendor is short and sweet.
“They meant to kill him.”
Who is they? Who is him? Why do they want to kill him? Yes, you’re going to be up all night reading this one.
Nora Roberts, Queen of Romance, serves up this two-liner to her novel The Witness:
Elizabeth Fitch’s short-lived teenage rebellion began with L’Oreal Pure Black, a pair of scissors and a fake ID. It ended in blood.
Ooh. If you haven’t read it, you’re going to now. =)
So first lines are probably easy with romantic suspense, right? How about humor? Try Janet Evanovich in One for the Money.
There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me—not forever, but periodically.
This from the Jill Shalvis book Rumor Has It:
Kate Evans would’ve sold her soul for a stress-free morning, but either her soul wasn’t worth much or whoever was in charge of granting wishes was taking a nap.
And Kristin Higgins from All I Ever Wanted:
As the man I loved approached my office, the image of a deer being hit by a truck came to mind. I was the deer, metaphorically speaking, and Mark Rousseau was the pickup truck of doom.
Now then, you’d best call in to the office. With all these great lines hooking you in, you’re going to be late to work tomorrow.