Written by: Haley Erb
Primary Source: Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures
It’s gotta POP. It’s gotta HOOK people. It’s gotta JUMP off the page.
There are about a zillion weird cliché phrases to express one simple idea: you’ve gotta start strong. An opening line sets the reader’s expectations in any genre or format, and these 1950s novels all offer opening lines worth aspiring towards: 13 Greatest Opening Lines from 1950s Novels
My personal favorites?
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” – The Voyage of The Dawn Treader
I read the Chronicles of Narnia back when I was in elementary school, and back in the days where a name was to be judged by how badly you could get bullied for it… deserving a name like Eustace Clarence Scrubb meant a lot.
And, of course, from one of my favorite novels:
“It was a pleasure to burn.” – Fahrenheit 451
It’s hard to even explain what is so perfect about this line, but if I must – it’s short, visceral, and full of promise. A perfect formula to fuel reader curiosity.
So whether you’re writing “The Next Great American Novel” or a short blog post for work, remember at least one variation of this cliché, because you only get one chance at a first impression.
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