The first line of a poem or story is important. It is the hook, essentially. The first line greets the reader, something like a warm invitation. It sparks questions from the reader’s mind, amusement, and wonder of what will continue.
The first line, much like the title, is a hint and opportunity to keep your audience wanting more. It is your one chance to keep the reader permanently engaged from beginning to end.
A lot of power rests in the first line.
The American Book Review published a list of the 100 best first lines of novels. Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher and the Rye, and Mrs. Dalloway have all found a spot to rest on the list, among others.
An awe-inspiring first line can be hard to come up with. Take the pressure off with these ideas. Each first line offers a character, a time, place, feeling, and/or an idea. Each first line pushes for something to happen and will cast a series of questions as to meaning and why this such thing is presently occurring.
Here are 55 first line ideas to get you started.
1. Perpendicular to the line of pine, the lightning struck one last time.
2. The snowflake drifted past the window, seeming to lift skywards.
3. The sirens wailed in a piercing projection, frightening the moon and awakening the neighborhood.
4. He had forgotten her name, but could trace the pattern of the wind from their last night together.
5. Their minds were beehives, teeming with thoughts of today, each carrying their own predictive conclusion.
6. One year later, the accident was an ancient echo.
7. The cherry tree toppled over as they sat beneath it, waiting out the storm.
8. The train schedule tangled in his mind, he had missed the last one of the night.
9. Voyage across rough sea began.
10. The night felt haunted, clouds of ghouls and stars like goblins hovered and taunted like fishing nets.
11. Reaching the destination, the radio station turned spontaneously staticky.
12. She lifted and lowered the ring on her finger, matching the rhythm of waves outside the nook.
13. She took a highway to Tennessee, never glancing back into the rearview mirror.
14. The bruise was black and blue like the most treacherous night.
15. They dipped their feet over the dock, rippling their reflections into a state of eventual nothingness.
16. Glaciers melted quickly in deserts, but he fell in love quicker.
17. The letter she wrote was the one never sent.
18. He wanted to change his name to the identity he always felt he had.
19. It began with a light tap on the door, then a pause, before a heavy pound.
20. Tonight, the traffic lights were full of tricks and I felt as if I couldn’t whisper to them as I crossed the streets.
21. A rabbit’s foot was meant to exude luck, but this rabbit’s foot bled in something different.
22. Mold swam through the icing, they had cut the cake too late.
23. The key broke in the lock and they had never been further away from each other.
24. The foyer’s cherry wood floor had endured smothers and punctures of socks and stilettos.
25. The Sunday morning sky was Juliet red, a shade that made him fearful.
26. A November breeze turned the revolving doors, a jet stream of golden leaves hurled toward the entrance.
27. The rose’s thorn pressed against her thumb, bleeding upon contact.
28. She turned a page of the photo album, sucking in her breath sharply as an image of him crossed her eyes.
29. The music slowed, notes floating, but we were the only two still dancing.
30. It was only the moon that knew which nights she had cried herself to sleep.
31. Their story began on the Brooklyn Bridge and ended on the coast of Oregon.
32. The chimneys exhaled smoke as living room televisions flickered with forecasts.
33. She peered down at her feet beneath the ocean’s silver layer, where, beside her large toe, was something sparkling.
34. Panic struck as the tornado siren blasted before sunrise.
35. The Great Dipper put out its lights.
36. Her tradition was grabbing a newspaper for the subway ride, but today she beelined for a magazine.
37. Only the romance novels gave her paper cuts.
38. The rocking horse always caught lazy afternoon light, and if stared at long enough, it would perform its forward and backwards motion.
39. Every spring, I’d visit my grandmother for lunch in the garden, but this was all before I committed my first crime.
40. She imagined the leaf would turn into a fairy and sprinkle her eyes with stardust.
41. She collected shades of lipstick, but never wore a single one.
42. A boom erupted backstage as the red curtains opened, lights dimmed, and audience hushed.
43. She flashed him an apologetic glance and he knew what was coming next.
44. She lived in California, but it felt like she was dropped in the middle of England.
45. Memories of late summer nights were etched forever in her mind, but amnesia became too strong, wiping it all away.
46. The wine glass fell, splashing the contents in its path.
47. Her throat hurt as if she had just swallowed a whole almond.
48. The news arrived on the first day of April, but it was no joke to giggle at.
49. As his suitcase rolled across the floor, he knew he’d never return to this claustrophobic room again.
50. The hail pounded the roof, the family inside sure the integrity of the ceiling was weakening with each pelt.
51. The boat glided across the lake, tranquility was the only thing that existed for miles.
52. Abundant attention burned as she stepped inside the room and everyone’s face turned toward her.
53. Sun rays fell, turning the meadow golden and melting away the snow.
54. The beaver waddled through the water, tail thrashing in agitated disturbance.
55. He frowned at the sight of her, but many months ago it used to be a toothy smile.