Thursday, January 13, 2011

In the Beginning…

By Danielle Jackson

As an avid reader, I know that an opening line sets the tone for the entire novel—whether it actually has anything integral or not to do with the plot and overall outcome for the characters—if it even has to do anything with the main characters… Anyway, I thought it would be fun to have a little quiz, which will have some recognizable first lines from books we all know and love, as well as some first lines from some author on the rise ;-) I’ll reveal the answers in the comments around Noon (CST). Until then, let us know your guesses, and share your own favorite first lines!

1) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

2) Lady Callista Taillefaire was a gifted wallflower.

3) It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

4) If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

5) I found him in the slave market on Orpheseus Prime, and even on such a godforsaken planet as that one, their treatment of him seemed extreme.

6) In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

7) Beau stomped on the brakes and jumped off the three-wheeler, anger boiling up from somewhere down deep in his scuffed-up cowboy boots.

8) The waxing moon was calling to her. Again.

9) Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

10) Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, was enjoying a leisurely measure of those things that pleased him most: solitude, peace, and quiet.

11) As Gregor Samsa awoke from a night of uneasy dreaming, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

12) Karma Kincaid, will you marry me?

13) Summer Wine Lee peeked through the drapery covering the second-story window of their rented London townhouse, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man she intended to hire to change her life forever.

14) Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

15) Lily Rutledge had never contemplated murder before, though she was warming to the idea.

Good luck!


  1. Now this is aggravating. I'm pretty sure I know about half of these, but if I want to read the other half, WHERE ARE THEY? I'm one of those read-the-last-page- first kind of people, and I don't see the answers here, my friend. It's a great list though.

    I get entire books written on the strength of good first lines, my fave so far being, "The child was little, helpless and in harm's way." I could start fifteen books with that line, and I probably will.

  2. Let me see now....
    1. A Tale of Two Cities
    2. I think I may have read this one
    3. Pride & Prejudice
    4. No clue, but it's a good one!
    5. Um, that would be Slave--and bless your heart for including it here!
    6. Sounds familiar, but can't place it.
    7. No clue, but gotta love a guy named Beau on a fourwheeler...
    8. Sounds familiar....
    9. One of the Harry Potter books. Not sure which one...
    10-13 Not sure, but interesting hooks...
    14. Little Women?
    15. Don't know, but I like it a lot!

  3. This is a wonderful, fun post, Danielle. Like Grace, I recognize about half of these. And you are sooo sweet to include number 7 in the list!
    Nora taught me to believe in first lines when I read Montana Sky and that may be my favorite first line ever.

  4. Danielle! Thanks for the morning brain exercise. ;) It is so important to grab your reader from the first page.

    1.) A Tale of Two Cities
    3.) Pride and Prejudice
    9.) Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone
    14.) Little Women

    The others are wonderful openings, but I don't remember where they are from.

    I have to confess, I used one of my "life lines" and asked my darling daughter for her help. ;)

    Wonderful blog!

  5. A quiz! How fun! (says the former teacher)
    1) A Tale of Two Cities (TOTC for those of us who have taught it year after year)
    2) Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale (Loved this book)
    3) Pride and Prejudice (if I miss this I get my Regency author privileges revoked)
    4) Catcher in the Rye--Salinger
    5) This sounds like one of Cheryl Brooks's books. I'm not sure which one.
    6) The Great Gatsby--Fitzgerald
    7) ?
    8) ?
    9) the first Harry Potter
    10) ?
    11) Metamorphosis by Kafka
    12) Is this one of Robin's books? Not sure...
    13) ?
    14) Little Women by Alcott
    15) ?

  6. Hi Grace--I'll be posting the answers in a little bit, so people have a chance to guess!

    Thanks to everyone for guessing so far! For some of the less recognizable lines, you might want to take a look at some of your fellow Casa Authors... just sayin' :)

  7. Okay, I'm bad, but that's what the Internet is for. If you do a search for each of the sentences, you can find the author!!! But this was really fun, Danielle!

    I don't have enough time to do it though since I've got to run to work after trying to get a million errands done this morning.--night shift--

    Let me tell you what I think of working until 9PM. That's for vampires. If I wanted to be a vampire, I would have signed up for the job. :) Just my opinion. Now everyone knows for certain that I'm a morning person. LOL

    Mine is #8--doesn't it sound rather wolfish??? Poor Carol, the moon is wreaking havoc with her determination NOT to shift. :)

  8. Great opening lines, Danielle. One of my favorites is by Julie Garwood--"They meant to kill him."

  9. Ok here are the answers!
    1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    2. Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale
    3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    5. Slave by Cheryl Brooks
    6. The Great Gatbsy by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    7. Lucky in Love by Carolyn B rown
    8. Wolf Fever by Terry Spear
    9. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
    10. The Heir by Grace Burrowes
    11. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
    12. Yours for the Taking by Robin Kaye
    13. My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy
    14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    15. A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare

  10. I love first lines and recognized most. LOL Thanks for including Yours for the Taking. It was great fun to see it there!

  11. What a fun fun idea for a blog, Danielle! Loved it! One of my favorite things to do in a bookstore is thumb through books and read tons of opening lines.... it's interesting to see what catches the eye right away. :)

  12. Great post, Danielle! I'm afraid I failed your quiz. :-( Glad to the answers were posted by the time I got here so I wasn't going nuts trying to look them all up.

  13. I was rather pleased with myself for knowing about half. I saw the opening line to "Slave" by Cheryl Brooks. "Little Women", "A Tale of Two Cities", "Harry Potter: The Sorcerer's Stone". "Pride and Prejudice"....ummmm... a few others are familiar but I can't place them. Cool list!

  14. Danielle, thanks for the fun contest. Like Olivia, I'm glad I came late today so I didn't have to show all my blank answers! I'm horrible at this kind of recall. LOL

  15. Fun! I had to test myself before I peeked at the answers. First lines are so important. I usually write a half dozen before I settle on my final answer.

  16. How wonderful to see a first line of mine in your list, Danielle! Very cool. :}