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Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

There was a thread we had some time ago about the best and worst first sentences in novels.
(here: thread1010-141376: It was a dark and stormy night.)
I recently re-read that thread and enjoyed it again immensely.

Of course there is also the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with made-up sentences like this one:

She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination. — Chris Wieloch, Brookfield, WI

But I’m always interested in actual novel first-sentences and enjoy reading them.

Do any of you have any favorites?

RE: Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

Chapter 1 is a bit of a prologue. Chapter 2 starts:

"High on a rocky promontory sat an Electric Monk on a bored horse."

- Steve

RE: Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

While this was NOT the first sentence of anything meaningful, awhile back, on another forum, there was a totally frivolous contest to see who could write the longest sentence, which made sense yet no word was used more than once. For the record, I was deemed the 'winner' with 60 words:

"Now, since I actually thought it up all by myself, without any direct help from other people here at my humble place of gainful employment and besides, this may ultimately turn out to be a really great note scamming, no make that spamming, scheme for me, but more likely in the end only light or frivolous entertainment will pour forth."

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

"It was the best of times,
It was the worst of times......"

Charles dickens
A Tale of Two Cities

“Squire Trelawney, Doctor Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 1750, and go back to the time when my father kept the "Admiral Benbow" Inn, and the brown old seaman, with the saber cut, first took up his lodging under our roof."

Robert Louis Stevenson.
“Treasure Island.”

The first I used once when leaving a job, as an explanation of why I was leaving. My boss was not intelligent enough to appreciate that it was a quotation, which was another reason that I was leaving!

The second I use as a demonstration of how to start a stry, or a report, gets the major characters, the locations, and the theme (treasure) into one sentence.

RE: Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

RE: Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment.

Thomas Hardy, Return of the Native, a fav because it was used in the Monty Python skeetch "Novel Writing"

RE: Best/Worst First-sentences in novels

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."


Pretty much every sentence in the HHGTTG.

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