Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Opening Paragraphs In Novels



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, we’re talking about opening paragraphs in novels. What makes a good one? I think a perfect starting paragraph introduces a problem, sets the scene, establishes the atmosphere, and/or introduces an intriguing character. Here are 10 first paragraphs that hooked me immediately.

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Great Opening Paragraphs In Novels












The journalists arrived before the coffin did. They gathered at the gate overnight and by dawn they were a crowd. By nine o’clock they were a swarm.



















The morning burned so August-hot, the marsh’s moist breath hung the oaks and pines with fog. The palmetto patches stood unusually quiet except for the low, slow flap of a heron’s wings lifting from the lagoon. And then, Kya, only six at the time, heard the screen door slap. Standing on the stool, she stopped scrubbing grits from the pot and lowered it into the basin of worn-out suds. No sounds now but her own breathing. Who had left the shack? Not Ma. She never let the door slam.




















They bring her out. Not blindfolded, but eyes widened to the last sky, the last light. The last cold bites her fingers and her face, the stones bruise her bare feet. There will be more stones, before the end.


















The girls were never present for the entrance interviews. Only their parents, their guardians, their confused siblings, who wanted to help them but didn’t know how. It would have been too hard on the perspective students to sit there and listen as the people they loved most in all the world—all this world, at least—dismissed their memories as delusions, their experiences as fantasies, their lives as some intractable illness.
















Lucky Trimble crouched in a wedge of shade behind the Dumpster. Her ear near a hole in the paint-chipped wall of Hard Pan’s Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center, she listened as Short Sammy told the story of how he hit rock bottom. How he quit drinking and found his Higher Power. Short Sammy’s story, of all the rock-bottom stories Lucky had heard at twelve-step anonymous meetings—alcoholics, gamblers, smokers, and overeaters—was still her favorite.

















Here we go again. We were all standing in line waiting for breakfast when one of the caseworkers came in and tap-tap-tapped down the line. Uh-oh, this meant bad news, either they’d found a foster home for somebody or somebody was about to get paddled. All the kids watched the woman as she moved along the line, her high-heeled shoes sounding like little firecrackers going off on the wooden floor.

















Wayne Blake was born at the beginning of March, during the first signs of the spring breakup of the ice—a time of great importance to the Labradorians who hunted ducks for food—and he was born, like most children in that place in 1968, surrounded by women his mother had known all her married life: Joan Martin, Eliza Goudie, and Thomasina Baikie. Women who knew how to ice-fish and sew caribou hide moccasins and stack wood in a pile that would not fall down in the months when their husbands walked the traplines. Women who would know, during any normal birth, exactly what was required.
















Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day. It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness. It was cold, and it was dark—in the dead of winter the sun didn’t rise until eight—but it was also lovely. The falling snow and the early hours conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.
















The method of laying out a corpse in Missouri sure took the proverbial cake. Like decking out our poor lost troopers for marriage rather than death. All their uniforms brushed down with lamp-oil into a state never seen when they were alive. Their faces clean shaved, as if the embalmer sure didn’t like no whiskers showing. No one that knew him could have recognized Trooper Watchorn because those famous Dundrearies was gone. Anyway Death likes to make a stranger of your face. True enough their boxes weren’t but cheap wood but that was not the point. You lift one of those boxes and the body makes a big sag in it. Wood cut so thin at the mill it was more a wafer than a plank. But dead boys don’t mind things like that. The point was, we were glad to see them so well turned out, considering.














Here is what I do on the first day of snowfall every year: I step out of the house early in the morning, still in my pajamas, hugging my arms against the chill. I find the driveway, my father’s car, the walls, the trees, the rooftops, and the hills buried under a foot of snow. I smile. The sky is seamless and blue, the snow so white my eyes burn. I shovel a handful of the fresh snow into my mouth, listen to the muffled stillness broken only by the cawing of crows. I walk down the front steps, barefoot, and call for Hassan to come out and see.






















Which book hooked you from the first paragraph?








27 comments:

  1. Wow, some of those opening lines are really intriguing and some are quite spooky! What a great list.

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  2. Great list! Ghost Wall is so beautifully written, I love that book.

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  3. Ghost Wall has such a great opening line.

    My TTT .

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  4. I am impressed by anyone, who did this topic. I don't keep track of things like this, but these are pretty cool. The one from Ghost Wall really caught my attention

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  5. These are so good! I am reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone next month! I can't wait. Great list!

    My Top Ten

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  6. I agreed that just one line isn't' enough to get me reading unless it's really great one line but a whole paragraph that will certainly get me to read the book.

    That Nevermoor opening got me reading but the book was just okay for me.

    The Ghost Wall opening is great but it sounds like it might be scary. Too chicken to read scary books.

    Have a lovely day.

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  7. I love The Kiterunner and The Higher Power of Lucky...they're already favorite reads. But I have to say, the opening line of Ghost Wall totally hooked me. I'm adding it to my TBR list. :)

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  8. I like that you did opening paragraphs, and not just first lines. I really do love the one for Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Great book.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  9. what great opening lines you have shared here. They are what will really engage you in a story and can set the stage for your reading.

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  10. That opening from Where the Crawdads Sing really sets a scene!

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  11. These are fantastic. I had actually forgotten just how gorgeous the writing is in The Kite Runner.

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  12. I have to admit, that first paragraph for Crawdad drew me in when I read it.

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  13. So smart to introduce paragraphs rather than a sentence!! The Kite Runner is an emotional rollercoaster that is such a great read, but also Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a gem!

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  14. Great list! I especially like that one from DOSAB (the 'Mondayness' and 'Januaryness' thing remind me a little of Patrick Ness, Philip Reeve and Neil Gaiman's style)

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  15. Hi AJ,
    Thanks for visiting my TTT earlier.

    I love your list, the first one is probably my favourite thouth there are quite a few books that I read, as well.

    Thanks.

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  16. I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I forgot what a great opening paragraph it had. And Every Heart a Doorway has been on my TBR for a while. I really need to read that one.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  17. What a great list! I haven't read any of these, but I'll go check them out on Goodreads!

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  18. I like the fact that you made these paragraphs instead of single sentences. Sometimes openings are better that way!

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.

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  19. Laini Taylor has such a beautiful way of writing.

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  20. The Kite Runner broke my heart when I read it! I was too lazy to go hunting through all my books looking for great opening lines or paragraphs. It was too much like hard work!

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  21. I really want to read Every Heart is a Doorway now! And The Kite Runner is such an incredible book! 😊

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  22. Daughter of Smoke and Bone really made me want to visit Prague. Maybe some day...

    Check out my Pride Month TBR and my most recent set of Mini Reviews

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  23. Oooo I love a good opening line/ paragraph. I really need to read The Kite Runner!

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  24. Good lines. I have only read "The Kite Runner." I need to read "Crawdads," but that opening paragraph I live ever morning in August when the air is too hot and as thick as soup and we who experience it are never granted any relief, even at night. But in the predawn hour, you can see Orion rising in the east, out over the marsh, and know that this oppressive weather won't last forever.

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  25. I used the Crawdads in my post two weeks a go but honestly, that opening line for Nevermoor makes me ant to read it while the cover would have made me flee!

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  26. I still haven't read Annabel. 😞

    I am excited to read Where the Crawdads Sing next year! 👍✨

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