Memorable Opening Lines

How important are opening lines to a book’s success? Editors tell writers that opening lines are essential to grab their (and a reader’s) attention, but honestly, how many opening lines can YOU remember? Even of famous books?

As an erotic romance author, I’ve tried to follow this sacred Rule Number One, and hook a reader from the very beginning of a story. Here’s a sampling…

“Isabella Tallin was handcuffed and blindfolded. What the hell was going on?”  (from my case-of-mistaken-identity contemporary erotic romance The Initiation of Isabella)

“Today was Saturday. That meant sex with Doc tonight.” (from my contemporary erotica amnesia story Snow White And Her Seven Lovers)

“Agent Turner, I’m sending you undercover as a Beautiful Dolls sex robot.”  (from my futuristic police erotic romance Programmed For Pleasure.)

What do you think? Would those opening lines tempt you to want to read more about the story? Are they enough of a hook for you as a reader?

Let’s compare those opening lines to some classic romances.

From Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell… “Scarlet O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”

From The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald… “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”

From Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte… “I’ve just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbor I shall be troubled with.”

Well? Would these classic opening lines be enough of a hook to make you buy the book? Or is it the story as a whole that makes it a classic? As an author or a reader, what do you think of the importance of opening lines?

Jenna Ives

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