I also like to give my creative writing students a list of ten first lines, unattributed, and find out which ones they are attracted to, to get them thinking about what makes a compelling beginning. Here’s a list for you:
1. My father has blue hands. – from this book
2. At first, our pack was all hair and snarl and floor-thumping joy. – from a story in this book
3. When I was eight, my papai took me to the park to watch a king die. – from this book
4. Sophronia intended to pull the dumbwaiter up from the kitchen to outside the front parlor on the ground floor, where Mrs. Barnaclegoose was taking tea. – from this book
5. I felt like I was trapped in one of those terrifying nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough. – from this book
6. A friend of mine has a habit of going to the zoo whenever there’s a typhoon. – from a story in this book.
7. Before Victor arrives, we are bored. – from a story in this book
8. I inherited a 1968 three-quarter ton Chevy pick-up from my grandfather who mowed lawns and trimmed shrubbery in suburban Los Angeles until he was eighty-seven. – from this book.
9. What do you wear to the birthday party of your ex-best friend? – from this book
10. Destiny is a saddled ass, my daughters; he goes where you lead him. – from this book
So. Which first line do you like best, and why?