The JRW Blog

Opening Lines

I am a voracious reader, have been all my life, which is probably why I eventually became a writer. I love opening lines. Good ones draw the reader in, and some are so alluring that you remember them forever.

One opening line I’ve always loved is the beginning of Daphne DuMaurier’s wonderful romantic mystery, Rebecca: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” I read the book first, then saw the film. Happily, the movie version did not disappoint by straying too far from the image the author had created of a brooding English estate and the mystery attached to the home’s late mistress.

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens instantly conveyed the mood surrounding the French revolution when he wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Good opening lines are not easy to write; you have to pack a lot of information, emotion or outrageous blarney into a few well-chosen words and make your reader want to find out more. It is a part of writing that the author finds challenging, yet addictive. On some days, a line of ad copy or the first words of a new chapter might flow effortlessly across the computer screen. On other days, the flow might stall, then trickle to a complete halt.

At James River Writing, I try to make opening lines the very best they can be, no matter what kind of message they are meant to introduce.

So what’s my own opening line? It’s very simple:

Helping you get the word out.