a good beginning

i want to pen the most enticing, delectably scrumptious first sentence ever written in a book. (a tall order indeed, right?) but this act of writing such blissful word perfection has been such a hard task for me to accomplish though, i've found. this pouring over word choice ever so carefully and stringing together words just so is not an easy task at all.

as a writer i know that i need to just write. yes, the beginning of any book is a very hard place to start writing. this i do know. that first sentence, the one that tells you where you might go or who you might become or even who you might meet along the way sets the stage in an either ghastly manner or in a brilliant array of beautifully crafted words.

this is my muse and my plight. they are one in the same. to create a beginning is daunting and daring and delightful. and if it must be, then i shall choose to be daring and let the daunting nature i've felt as of late pass me on by, as i pen that first delightful sentence.

 i confess that i've struggled greatly with re-writing the beginning of the novel i'm currently working on. i want it to be perfection. i want it to set the stage and be so vividly memorable to it's one-day readers (fingers crossed) so i've written, and re-written and re-written it again, over and over and over. and now i think i may just be onto the start of something wonderful, enticing even, but i will continue to write and re-write it until i get this novel...this beginning WIP...just right. until that opening sentence satiates my hunger, and tells me a story all it's very own, that pulls me in and drowns me in a very delightfully good beginning.

so, i will write. beginning, middle and end. there and back again. over and under and through the woods. until the sentences are just rightly so. breathtaking, enticing and delectably scrumptious to behold.

yes, i dare pray so. let the writing begin.


i've been wanting to share some of my favorite opening sentences from some of my all time favorite novels with you dear readers for a while now. and these authors knew how to set the stage, i must say.  

"it was a dark and stormy night." 
madeleine l'engle // a wrinkle in time

"she walked through an orchard, fallen apples red and cidery on the ground, crossed a stone wall, and wandered into a small wood." 
madeleine l'engle // an acceptable time

"i have been asked to tell you about the back of the North Wind."
george macdonald // at the back of north wind

"it was a good night to get engaged."
jenny b. jones // save the date

"wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world."
christopher paolini // eragon

"if you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book."
lemony snicket // the bad beginning 

"alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book', thought alice, 'without pictures or conversations?'"
Lewis Carroll // alice's adventures in wonderland and other stories

What are some of your favorite novel-first-sentences?


  1. THE best opening line is from the first novel in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. It says "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

  2. {alaythea} From what I've heard Stephen King is a MASTER STORYTELLER! I've not read any of his books yet, but reading at least one Stephen King novel (before I die) is on my to-do bucket list! Any suggestions on what my first SK novel should be??

  3. ...oh, and i do LOVE that line you shared ^^ from the Sk novel, alaythea! =)

  4. I like unusual first sentences. Stuff like "I'm not crazy, no matter what they tell you" or "It really wasn't my fault at all" or "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." (Most famous first line ever.)

  5. I love the eragon line! One of my favorites is "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I just found your blog, and I love it! You have such a way with words!

  6. {Sierra} i hope i can get it RIGHT too!

    {Emily Rachelle} oh, me too! Ooh, thank you for sharing those lines. i love them!

    {Sarah Michelle} oh, i forgot that one! i absolutely love 'the voyage of the dawn treader!' thank you for your sweet words, as i do try to write transparently. i'll have to check out your blog soon! =)

  7. This is a great post...I too agonize over just.the.right.words! Especially for the "climax" of the story. Yeesh. Makes me wanna tear my hair out some days...then when the Lord inspires those perfect words...I want to weep for joy.

    Nothing like being a writer, huh? ;)

  8. {Meghan} Well, you said it girl! There's nothing like being a writer.

  9. Loved this post! And I enjoyed the first sentences of novels you shared...though I cannot think of any off the top of my head, I have been struck by a few before that were amazing!

    You know, I personally think you could start a novel with the first 3 paragraphs or so of this post! I am serious! It would have to be a novel about a writer I suppose, or someone similar....but it could work. Because it read like an interesting book to me! :)

    I tagged you in my latest post, so please, drop in and read it and find yourself! Have a nice day!

  10. {dove of snow} hehe. thank you! maybe i should write about a struggling author, since that's where i seem to be at the moment myself! ;) i'll be sure to check your blog asap! =)

  11. The book itself isn't that great, but I loved the prologue to The Deed of Paksenarrion:
    In a sheepfarmer's low stone house, high in the hills above Three Firs, two swords hang now above the mantelpiece. [...] The other is a very different matter: long and straight, keen-edged, of the finest sword-steel, silvery and glinting blue even in yellow firelight. The pommel's knot design is centered with the deeply graven seal of St. Gird; the cross-hilts are gracefully shaped and chased in gold.
    [Old Dorthan reminds his grandchildren] of the day a stranger rode up, robed and mantled in white, an old man with thin silver hair, and handed down the box [with a scroll] and the sword, naked as it hangs now.
    "Keep these," the stranger said, "in memory of your daughter Paksenarrion. She wishes you to have them and has no need of them." And though he accepted water from their well, he would say no more of Paksenarrion, whether she lived or lay buried far away, whether she would return or no.
    The scroll Dorthan reads is headed The Deed of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter of Three Firs, and many are the tales of courage and adventure written therein.


    1. Niiiiiice. Thanks for sharing that with me, Travis!

  12. I love this post, Sarah! I love the beginnings of all the books I've read that you mention - plus Pride and Prejudice and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and I'm sure there are others. I like the opening sentence of The Hunger Games, too: "When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold." The opening sentence is so crucial. It may take time, but I believe you'll find yours!

    1. Yes, I definitely LOVED the first sentence of The Hunger Games!

  13. Wonderful post, Sarah! So true!

    The first sentence of my favorite book (The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale) is this:
    "She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she did not open her eyes for three days."
    It leaves the mystery of all that is yet to come in the story just where it should be; in the future. And yet, Hale gives you just enough information to picture what the story will be focusing on; a girl --- a princess --- with four names. It gets you thinking; Why are her eyes closed? And it moves you to discover the answer. (Hope this helps!)

    God bless ♥

    1. Ooh, yes, I do like that a lot! Thanks for your perspective on this too, Katie! =)


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