This Title Is Not So Good

But the first sentence makes up for it.

Photo by Daniel Salcius on Unsplash

On a quiet Sunday morning, I opened a book and got kicked in the stomach.

Despite the pain, I continued driving my eyes word after word, line after line. I couldn’t help it. I was curious. I was eager to know more. I had to.

This is the power of a great opening line. It grabs you by the neck and it doesn’t let go.

Everyone tells you about the importance of titles in blog posts. They are fundamental. But so are the first sentences.

Over the centuries, authors have mastered this art and came up with some of the most beautiful opening lines. Here are some of them, for a boost of inspiration.


“I’m pretty much f*cked.”

— The Martian, by Andy Weir


“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

— Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides


“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.

— Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy


“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

— The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath


“Mother died today.”

— The Stranger, by Albert Camus


“The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizzards had long since ended.”

— 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke


“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

— I capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith


“Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.”

— High-Rise, by J.G. Ballard


“They shoot the white girl first.”

— Paradise, by Toni Morrison


“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”

— The Trial, by Franz Kafka


“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence, and he almost deserved it.”

— The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis


“I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead.”

— On The Road, by Jack Kerouac


“I am an invisible man.”

— Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison


“It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.”

— City of Glass, by Paul Auster


“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”

— The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford


“The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.”

— The Go-Between, by L.P. Hartley


“Every summer, Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.”

— Waiting, by Ha Jin


Opening lines… so important! But what about closing lines?

“And that might be the subject of a new story but our present story is over.”

— Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Categories Articles, Read & Write

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