Favorite First Sentences

The first sentence is (arguably) the most important sentence in a book. Here are some of my favorites. I scoured my bookshelves and found the most intense, descriptive, catchy sentences I could find.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London. 1903.

“Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tidewater dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego.”

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. 1924

“Except for the Marabar Caveand they are twenty miles offthe city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary.”

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton. 1994.

“I used to think if you fell from grace it was more likely than not the result of one stupendous error, or else an unfortunate accident.”

Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo by Ntozake Shange. 1982.

“Where there is a woman there is magic.”

Charlotte’s Web. 1952.

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet A. Jacobs. 1857.

“I was born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away.”

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. 2006.

“All day, the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths.”

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. 2000.

“My name is Indiana Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”

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It’s a lot of pressure to follow-up after those incredible intro sentences, but I thought it would be fun to share the first sentence from the YA novel I am writing.

Not By Blood by Rachel McKee

“When the ferry that carried Brian Colt smacked into the arrival dock, his past collided with the future.”

Do you have a first sentence from a manuscript that you would like to share? How about a favorite first sentence that sticks out in your mind? Please comment below.

-Rachel McKee

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Author: Rachel McKee

Currently writing a YA novel. I love reading about everything, truly I'm not a book snob. Lately I have been "reading" a lot of picture books to my baby boy. In my past life before motherhood, I was a professional technical editor and writer.

18 thoughts on “Favorite First Sentences”

  1. The first sentences of the first novel in my fantasy series:
    “It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. It was a pleasant late summer’s evening, shortly after sunset, the sky a rich navy blue, stars beginning to twinkle in the distance. “

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your first line. My favourite is from The Outsiders “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” Mine from my next novel, Aqua Bay, is: Nerissa sped down the road as she had done many times before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Casey! I haven’t read The Outsiders yet, but based off the first line it sounds good! I really like your first line too. I instantly wonder, will something be different about this trip down the familiar road? Nerissa sounds like she likes to go fast, is she daring? Does she go everywhere fast, is that in her personality?
      Sucked me right in!

      Like

  3. I really like your first line, actually thought it is the best out of all of those you’ve listed. I like how it immediately sets the scene, but also doesn’t give too much away.
    I also like the first sentence from The Social Contract by French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. (Technically it’s not the first sentence of the entire book but the first sentence of the chapter, as the book had an intro section).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Jolene that’s a major compliment! Thank you so much. That quote is amazing by Rousseau. I’m going to have to write that one down. I didn’t include intros either I just went straight to the story. Thank you for reading.💚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great idea for a post (and your Instagram picture brought me straight here! = D)

    I like your choices! I’m putting “Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo” on my must-read list now.

    My favorite first sentence comes from Peter Pan: All children, except one, grows up. First sentence from Eleanor: Lady Fitzopul was not a lady.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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