Opening Lines of Bestsellers: Which would you buy?

Permalink

Opening Lines:
I’ve written before about the importance of opening lines and 12 options for opening a story or novel. Which of these would make you read the next line? If you had to choose JUST BY READING THE OPENING LINES, which book would you buy?

Opening Lines

A. Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner.
B. I am a lawyer and I am in prison.
C. They took Mother away today
D. When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.
E. Some years in Portland, Oregon, winter is a bully, spitting sleet and spewing snow in fits and starts as it violently wrestles days from spring, claiming some archaic right to remain king of the seasons—ultimately the vain attempt of another pretender.
F. “I don’t know why we gotta sit here baking in your car in the middle of he day, in the middle of the summer, in the middle of this crummy neighborhood,” Lulu said.
G. The light of a half-moon shimmered off the restless sea like a streak of flaming mercury.
H. The rear door to St. Anthony’s church had been left open.
I. The four dead men were lined up on the living room floor of the safe house
J. He had the look of a man who was afraid that tonight would be his last on earth.

Did you guess that these are the opening lines for titles on the Best Selling Books for December 03, 2012? Does that change your evaluation of them? Match these opening lines with these top 10 bestselling adult novels.

Bestselling Titles, December 2012

  1. Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
  2. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
  3. The Forgotten by David Baldacci
  4. Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson
  5. The Racketeer by John Grisham
  6. The Last Man by Vince Flynn
  7. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  9. Cross Roads by Wm Paul Young
  10. Poseidon’s Arrow by Clive Cussler

What do you notice about these opening lines? Leave a comment: which book would you buy, if you only read the opening lines?

Answers: 1-F, 2-C, 3-J, 4-H, 5-B, 6-I, 7-A, 8-D, 9-E , 10-G

From Rejection to Acceptance

Help your story shine.

Get the Picture Book Checklist now!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Related Post

6 Comments
  • LAura MarcellA
    December 17, 2012

    1 matches F and 7 matches A. I haven’t read the others yet but a bunch are on my to-read list. All these opening lines have some measure of interest about them, though a few are more intriguing than others. What matters are the sentences following the first line!

  • Michael Gettel-Gilmartin
    December 17, 2012

    I doubt I’d BUY any of them based solely on the opening lines, although I would read on for all of them except for G, which struck me as nothing special. My favorites were I, F, and J, with E thrown in because I live in Portland, Oregon (although I thought it was a bit overblown). All of them had me asking the question, “What is going on? What has happened? I want to know.” And that is what a good start does, make you ask questions you want to have answered.

    Thanks for doing this exercise–when I found out who the authors were, I found myself hoping against hope that I wasn’t in love with a line from Glenn Beck!

  • Jenny
    December 17, 2012

    Based only upon the first lines, I was immediately sucked into

    5-B. I am a lawyer and I am in prison.
    I just want to know why, and am intrigued by the paradox.

    and

    9-E. Some years in Portland, Oregon, winter is a bully, spitting sleet and spewing snow in fits and starts as it violently wrestles days from spring, claiming some archaic right to remain king of the seasons—ultimately the vain attempt of another pretender.
    I love crisp description like this, it conveys a unique perspective and complex thought.

  • Darcy Pattison
    December 17, 2012

    Interesting that Jenny thought the description of Portland weather was “crisp,” while Michael thought it was overblown. Also interesting was the fact that this was the only description in the mix. And Michael, you made me laugh about finding out who wrote the lines.

    Darcy

  • LOU tRELEAVEN
    December 18, 2012

    I loved B, until I found out it was John Grisham! My least favourite was E as I didn’t like the mix of tenses. I wrongly assumed H was The Casual Vacancy.

  • Dina
    December 18, 2012

    I echo MICHAEL GETTEL-GILMARTIN – same reaction, same choices. Re. Portland opener, I also thought it was somewhat overblown, but the verb choices would have me looking ahead.