First Lines


Last night the Salt Water Writers met for another rousing week of exploration and fun with our writing.  Last night we spent some time on first lines.  It was a great exercise that proved to be a (not-so-gentle) catalyst launching us into other-worlds with actions already going on.  I continue to be so impressed with our writers original voices.  It is such a joy to write with these people.

I scoured the interwebs for great first lines and boy, there were a lot of lists.  It’s too hard to narrow down in my book.  But The Telegraph took a stab at it:


‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ | George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Red Badge of Courage

“The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.” | Stephen Crane: The Red Badge Of Courage (1895)


“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.” | J.D Salinger: The Catcher In The Rye (1951)


“All this happened, more or less.” | Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five (1969)

Moby Dick

“Call me Ishmael.” | Herman Melville: Moby-Dick (1851)


You can see their comprehensive list here.  And a couple of months ago I read a great article here about Stephen King and his search for great first lines.


  1. When at the library I always skim through the books and will open to a page in the middle to see if I want to check it out but perhaps I should just go with the first line from now on!

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