Opening Lines

Posted: February 17, 2015 in graffiti living
Tags: , ,

What do the following passages have in common and how’s it relevant to your writing?

Have a guess and I’ll tell you in a follow-up post.

I’ll give you a clue: It’s not just that they are effective openings. It’s not that they rock. And it’s not that they were picked from my own bookshelf.

All of these things are true, but there’s something else that’s far more important.

Answers on a postcard… alright, in a comment:

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. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have two haemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. — JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s pushing a gun into my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die. For a long time though, Tyler and I were best friends. — Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

It wasn’t until we were halfway through France that we noticed Maretta wasn’t talking. She sat very still in the back of the van and watched us all with bright eyes. — Esther Freud, Hideous Kinky

Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know. — Albert Camus, The Outsider

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing in particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail around a little and see the watery part of the world. — Herman Melville, Moby Dick

‘What’s it going to be then, eh?’ There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Peter, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry. — Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

The lie detector was asleep when he heard the telephone ringing. At first he believed it was the clock ordering him to rise, but then he awakened completely and remembered his profession. The voice he heard was rusty, as if disguised. He could not distinguish what altered it: alcohol, drugs, anxiety or fear. — Anais Nin, A Spy in the House of Love

I had a job and Patti didn’t. I worked a few hours a night for the hospital. It was a nothing job. I did some work, signed the card for eight hours, went drinking with the nurses. After a while, Patti wanted a job. She said she needed a job for her self-respect. So she started selling multiple vitamins door to door. – Raymond Carver, Vitamins

It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears’ house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. — Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Her first feeling, as she smelled the air, was one of intense and helpless gratitude. I’m alright, she thought with a gasp. Time – it’s starting again. She tried to blink away all the water in her eyes, but there was too much to deal with and she soon shut them tight. — Martin Amis, Other People

Some catastrophic situations invite clarity, explode in split moments: You smash your hand through a window-pane and then there is blood and shattered glass stained with red all over the place; you fall out a window and break some bones and scrape some skin. Stitches and casts and bandages and antiseptic solve and salve the wounds. But depression is not a sudden disaster. — Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation


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