Cheesey Opening Lines?

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

I read a blog recently (SARAH BRENTYN, Lemon Shark, HERE ) about first lines – opening lines of a book or sometimes a chapter.

Sarah’s post leans toward celebrating YA genre, which is fine, and touches on wondering why people don’t like it. I was one of those people. (I thought YA was written for young teens, and I didn’t want to read that. It’s not, and sometimes I do. Plus I kinda got forced into it, but that’s a story for a different time.)


To me, it’s important to hook a reader at the very start of your story, in the opening paragraph and with the very first words if possible. Not necessarily in your first draft, but definitely in your final draft.

(Read more about that HERE)


I also think it’s a good idea to end chapters with a cliffhanger ending, just so you know. Again, it’s not always possible or even desirable, but do these things when you can. Twenty chapters in, you can ease up; readers are likely to stay with you. But maybe not.


So when I caught this post, it intrigued me, and I want you to follow it to the end. My reason for doing this is different from the original author of the blog. I don’t think these opening lines are all that great, most of them. See what you think. (This selection is YA.)

Onward! First lines…

“I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.”

His Fair Assassin Book 1: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

“Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.”

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

“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.”

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

“In all the years I’d existed, I’d never expected to be free.”

The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

“Petunia was knitting some fingerless gloves to match her new red velvet cloak when the Wolves of Westfalian Woods attacked.”

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

“Every morning, the sun comes up and turns the earth red, and I think: This could be the day when everything changes. Maybe today the Society will fall.”

Matched Trilogy Book 3: Reached by Ally Condie

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.”

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth

“They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see.”

Blood of Eden Book 1: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

“Spring in the mountains of Morravik was a about as predictable as a tired two-years child in a house of wonders…”

The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede

“Just so you know, when they say ‘Once upon a time’…they’re lying.”

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

(I cheated on this one. Technically, this isn’t the first line of the novel but it’s the first line of the “Oliver” chapter—the main character of this book within a book)

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.”

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

“He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.”

Book 1

“She spoke to him before the world fell apart.”

Book 2

“It was the smell that began to drive Thomas slightly mad.”

Book 3

Maze Runner Series by James Dashner


Again, these are YA, and I have a friend who loves writing YA, and I’m writing a YA, so it’s not meant to disparage the genre, but honestly, any of you could write opening lines better than half of these, and as good as any of these.


And that’s the point. These books did well. Give yourself every advantage, but write the best opening line you can.


Now, here’s what I want you to do.


In the comments, post the opening line, with attribution, of (A) the book you are currently reading or have most recently read and (B) one of more of your favorite books. I don’t care if it’s  Hop On Pop or Winnie The Pooh or Treasure Island or The Martian – which, honestly, the opening lines read like a blog post of mine when I was drunk and it’s a bestseller and a big movie with Matt Damon.


That’s not the point. The point is, we sometime feel we’re in a competition and we probably aren’t, but why not pull back the curtain and reveal what words opened for so many books we liked?


So? What are the opening lines of your favorite books?


Let’s do this, too. In a separate post, CLICK HERE, I’ll list some opening lines and you read and rate them. Don’t try to say oh, that’s a famous classic book, of course I should like it, instead, just SAY whether you liked it and maybe what grabbed you about it, and then I’ll show where it came from. Could be fun. And I’ll play along. Go ahead, click over.


Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Send it as a comment to any post or hit the Contact Me button and, you know, contact me. I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends, too.)

FOLLOW ME! I’m this helpful and funny all the time. Probably. Don’t miss another valuable bauble that falls from my fingertips. You read this far; you may actually need this stuff. SUBSCRIBE/FOLLOW TODAY (click the follow “Follow” button, above) and if you send me your email through the Contact Me button I’ll send you a free copy of my amazingly cute book “The Short Years” plus we’ll probably become friends and start hanging out and stuff.

If you benefit from this blog, share it with your friends!

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure” – yeah, we know. We tried to convince him to change that title. He’s sticking with it. Check out his other works HERE  and check back often for interesting stuff.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

17 thoughts on “Cheesey Opening Lines?

  1. A recently read favorite: “The man with fewer than three years to live has his left hand on the Bible.” -Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

  2. Great post Dan. Once, again, I’m hitting ‘follow’ because your blog says I’m not following it, even though I am? This has happened to many sites I visit?

    1. That happens to me, too. You can “follow” the BLOG or you can follow the posts and updates on a thread. After that, you have to check your settings. My friend Jenny’s blog NEVER sends me updates. I have no clue why. Maybe she blocked me cos I stalk her, though. That could be it.

      1. Lol Dan. I can’t keep up with the this wordpress and google stuff. I am now receiving double notifications and twice as much in my already overflowing inbox. I have to dig myself out of my email. I’ll sort it all out eventually. Thanks for the heads up! 🙂
        PS I already followed your blog through subscribing. I have 2 google pages and I think when I read blogs, wherever I signed into my email last is who google recognizes me as when I comment. Did I just confuse you more? LOL

  3. I think Call of the Wild’s opening is perfect. We get introduced to the main character and start right in the action. It may be a little run-on, but literary convention was different in 1903.

    My favorite cheesy opening line comes from Tom Holt’s Who’s Afraid of Beowulf. “Someone had written ‘godforsaken’ between ‘Welcome to’ and ‘Caithness’ on the road sign. When he saw the emendation, the surveyor almost smiled.”

  4. The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts or bulletin boards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    This is an awesome book and one of my all time favorites!

  5. This is my favorite, from gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson: “There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel’s, high school quarter-backs, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.” I love a few of those you have posted above, especially Tiger Lily and Between the Lines. Haven’t read those two, but I think I might!

    My own WIP has a pretty great opening line, I think. From Freedom City: “I believe in Hell.”

    And my other unpublished novel, Women Like Us: “Despite what the justice system would have you believe, I am not a cold-blooded killer.”

    I guess I cheated, but those are actually two of my favorites! Maybe I can get a publisher to read them someday. 😉

    1. Nicole, there is no cheating. It’s all an exercise in eye opening (or something). Great opening lines to BOTH of your novels! Keep us posted on the release dates and feel free to share the links when the time comes!

      I like how Gods in Alabama almost mentions Jesus as an after thought. Oh yeah, that guy too. He’s kind of a big deal. After trucks, of course.

      To be fair, that’s probably a pretty honest list…

      1. Yeah, I think the “gods” line is great because it perfectly sets the tone for the book, conveys the author’s voice, and it definitely hooked me. 🙂

        Glad you liked my opening lines. Thanks!

  6. And that’s a lot to ask from an opening line, but it’s effective – yours, too.

    My most recent one starts with “Daddy?” So, hmm…

    Nicole, did you do the opening lines first or after the book was done, or what? Mine are usually done first and maybe tweaked later but I know some authors only write the final version of the first line after the whole book is completed.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: