Great and powerful opening lines

My pal and horror writer extraordinaire, Robert Hood, wrote a blog post recently about great opening lines. He links to an interview with Danel Olson on the subject, since Olson’s anthology, Exotic Gothic 4 (P S Publishing), recently won the World Fantasy Award (and contains an excellent story by Rob.)

Rob listed a couple of his favourite opening lines and asked if anyone else had any. I’ve got loads! It’s a bit of a pet subject for me. So I shared some of mine on Rob’s Facebook post and then thought I might post them here on my own blog, as I think they’re well worth sharing. This is just a few that immediately sprang to mind as powerful enough to stick with me. The strength of an opening line can never be underestimated.

“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” – Stephen King, The Gunslinger

“The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-wracked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.” – Ursula Le Guin, Wizard of Earthsea

“The abyss should shut you up.” – Peter Watts, Starfish

“This is the story of a man who went far away for a long time, just to play a game.” – Iain M Banks, The Player of Games

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” – William Gibson, Neuromancer

“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…” – H G Wells, The War of the Worlds

“Of all the rash and midnight promises made in the name of love none, Boone now knew, was more certain to be broken than: ‘I’ll never leave you.'” – Clive Barker, Cabal

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave with one more, my all-time favourite. Not quite the opening line, but the end of the opening paragraph:

“Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.” – Robert E Howard, The Phoenix on the Sword

Awesome.

Have you got any?

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6 thoughts on “Great and powerful opening lines

  1. “First you fall in love with Antarctica, and then it breaks your heart.” Antarctica, Kim Stanley Robinson. The next 2 paragraphs add to that brilliantly as well.

  2. A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate. – The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

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