What is the most memorable opening line you have ever read?
Whether literature, flash fiction, creative writing, poetry, novel or in anything you have ever read, what is the most memorable opening line? Thank you for sharing!
"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, "
From The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, published in 1845.
I am not sure why it is so memorable to me. I like the rhythm of it, the image it brings to mind, and I love reading Edgar Allen Poe's works.
At the moment, no other opening line comes to me but that one. So, I guess it is my most memorable. LOL
Oh, Phyllis, now that would have been the second one to come to my mind! Who could ever forget that line as an opening line? I love Poe too, and it does have a great rhythm to it for sure. Thank you for answering.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
~from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. And although a "classic" in today's terms, the passage resonates with our modern era.
This was actually the first one that came to my mind as well! I loved your follow-up explanation here. Thank you so much for sharing beth. Hi Kathleen, Suzette and Will. Seems, many are on the same page.
Thank you bethperry! I used that quote but could not remember where and you cleared it up for me! blessings, Sparklea
Thanks for reminding us all of this great beginning. When I saw this question, I immediately thought of the equally potent ending -- the sacrifice of self-concern for True Love.
Hi Lone77Star, thank you for sharing that powerful and memorable ending line as well!
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The sense of the world is short,
'Awake, arise,sleep not till the goal is reached.' - Swami Bibekananda
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
Oh, so cool, Arachnea, Lewis Carroll, wow, that is certainly memorable! Thank you for a great answer and sharing here.
These opening lines of Jabberwocky are some of the few lines I actually have memorized and cannot get rid of. They are with me forever.
Hi, lone77star . I have a copy of Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the snark on my desk at work.
"Life is difficult." It is the opening line in the book, "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. It is one of my favorite books and favorite lines because it speaks a truth to which all can relate or will eventually. Great question, Faith Reaper.
I actually have several. I very often remember the opening lines, but I remember will also remember how I felt as I read the book and ideas will state with me for many years.
Opening line in a book I read many years ago...."Mildred hid the ax beneath the mattress of the cot in the dining room." Why did this line stay with me? Mildred was uneducated, street-wise, tough, but had a fierce love for her children. At that moment she was preparing for battle again an abusive man. The book changed my opinion about many things, and I have never forgotten Mildred and how she fought to get herself and her children to a better life. The book "Mama" by Terry McMillian
If you will indulge me for a moment....another is from The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield.....it is not an opening line but a line from the book that I have not forgotten many years later....."Children should learn the world from adults, not from other children. In too many cultures children are running in gangs."
'knowledge based on experience is better than knowledge based on books ' -supremeupbeatk
Wow, Dee aka Nonna, Interesting choices here and explanation as to why you remember that first one. It certainly sounds like a great book and I can so relate to protection our children no matter what! Both choices are truly interesting.
I've read all the Celetine Prophecy books, and I highly recommend them. That is a good line, Dee.
beth perry has already chosen the one that immediately came to my mind. " It was the best off times; it was the worst of times, , . " by Chatkes Dickens in Take if Two Cities. And, for all the reasons she states. Great question and so interesting to read the answers.
"It was the best of times and the worst of times" - even though I have never read the book!
Also, I read a book about 4 years ago that began, 'We met at airports...' can't remember the title, but it was a very dreary first person story about a woman abused by her father...it was compelling and quite the page turner.
Faith, I will be emailing you hopefully this weekend...it has been beyond hectic. God bless, you remain in my prayers every day as well as your family. Sparklea
Hi Dear Sparklea, That is certainly the first one that came to my mind too, and many others as well. The page turner one is interesting and the book does sound compelling! I will look for your e-mail. I promise to have something in the mail to you
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1
Thank you. Thank is a really good one......
Oh, wow, JThomp, now who could EVER forget that awesome opening line!!! Thank you for this great answer. Blessings
"It was a dark and stormy night." I believe it was Raymond Feist who actually began the opening chapter of one of his fantasies with this line. Fact is, it was so appropriate to his opening that I couldn't stop laughing to get through the first couple of pages. It wasn't supposed to be funny, and only a professional writer would have cracked up over it.
All professional writers know that we are taught that this line is a real NO-NO" and a book killer. Feist pulled this off so good, so effectively, that I will admire him forever for it. His unbelievable use of this mundane, drab statement was more memorable to me than all the great writings I've ever read.
(If you recall, Snoopy always began his novel in the Charlie Brown comic strip with this line.)
MizB, so funny yet so great that Feist pulled it off so smoothly. And funny that I was thinking about Snoopy and how he always began his novel before I even read your comment on that. I wonder if Snoopy ever finished his novel? haha
Hahaha, MizB, clever answer and I see why it is memorable to you and now you have me thinking too about Snoopy LOL. Your explanation as to why it is so memorable to you is excellent and interesting. Thank you so much for sharing here!!!
It was by Sherlock Holmes: "Eliminate all other factors, and the one that remains must be the truth." It was in "The Science of Deduction" and "The Sign of Four".
Hi Dear Kevin, Oh, yes, now that is truly a memorable line no doubt about it and actually one we should all remember and apply to our lives!!! Thank you for sharing. Blessings
I love mysteries and Sherlock Holmes is my favorite.
Yes, me too, Sherlock rocks no doubt! Hugs
"To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die."
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)
That is a memorable line, and it is important to die to self. However, I read the same lines from another source ...God's Word. Thank you for answering.
When I survived a comatose experience i felt this way...
Hello connorj, thank you for sharing. I am so happy to know you survived your comatose experience and shared about it. Blessings
Opening lines of poems seem to stay with me. There are many!
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.........
Wallace Stevens, The Emperor of Ice Cream
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made.... WBYeats
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame.....GM Hopkins
The darkness crumbles away.
it is the same old druid time as ever.....Isaac Rosenberg.
On and on. All memorable, impossible to pick one!
"Who am I? And how, I wonder, will this story end?" Opening line from "The Notebook" a Novel by Nicholas Sparks.....
Hi Paula, oh, yes, now that is a good one there no doubt about it! Loved "The Notebook", and thank you for answering.
Yes, "The Notebook" was very memorable.It got passes around our office, and I think all of us females read it.
Beth Perry nailed it for me. Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities" starts and ends with elegant simplicity which resonates across time and transcends all earthly concerns.
Some of my own writing captures a similar potency (but not of the power and caliber of Dickens). I wish all of it did. The following pieces from my own works remain opening lines which mean a great deal to me.
Touch the Stars: Emergence
(Carl Martin; co-author, John Dalmas; new beginning from the June, 2012 update of this 1983 novel)
Jason Roanhorse shot upright into the dark of his bedroom directly from the frenzy of a nightmare. It was the phone that had saved him. Everything but a fading sense of the dream's urgency evaporated by the next ring.
Edge of Remembrance
(Carl Martin; new opening from my 2006 novel, update not yet published)
Merla Velzna had earned the right not to kill. She had the skills of warfare, but had never enjoyed them. As a military commander, she had been far better at saving lives, and that had given her the title, "Hero of Kundelé."
The Bible's Hidden Wisdom: God's Reason for Noah's Flood
(Rod Martin, Jr.; 2014)
Imagine the waters rising up around you faster than the rain is falling. Imagine each hour sea level burgeoning upward another thirty feet and that there is no sign of it slowing. Soon, the tallest buildings are engulfed. What had seemed a freak storm at mid-afternoon is now a nightmare covering the tallest, nearby hills. No refuge can be found in the frenetic, dark currents of midnight.
Watered Down Christianity
(Rod Martin, Jr.; in progress)
In this day of instant gratification, a user-friendly Jesus seems to fit right in. Now, salvation is made easy — a veritable 8 lane freeway with pre-packaged biblical interpretation, immediate and permanent forgiveness, and lenient requirements to fit any lifestyle.
Entropy's Children (anthology)
(Carl Martin; 2014; The following two are short stories in this anthology)
Dark shapes against black flickered outside the limousine window.
Telandri shuddered at the bland nothingness surrounding the plush metal box in which he rode. No one could get used to that degree of blackness, he thought.
The planet below is 49.3 light years from MIT, but it no longer seems so far from home.
This haven changed me — made me feel young again. I suppose a scientist isn't supposed to become sentimental about places they have worked, but a part of me will always remain on this world.
"I remember it as if it were yesterday as he came plodding to the old inn door..." Not the opening lines, but the opening lines of paragraph two of that old classic, Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. I guess it is because I first heard those lines as a schoolboy when our teacher read us this story. Since then I have read this book some half-a-dozen times and never cease to enjoy reading it.
There is something about this book;so much so that when people think of pirates the image of Long John Silver, one leg missing and a colorful parrot perched on his shoulder, springs automatically to mind. The English actor, Robert Newton, with his gravelly voice immortalized this image in his portrayal of both Long John in Treasure Island, and Blackbeard the Pirate. Everything other attempt at being a Caribean buccaneer has been a poor immitation, it seems.
"I believe in America. America has made my fortune. And I raised my daughter in the American fashion. I gave her freedom, but - I taught her never to dishonor her family. She found a boyfriend, not an Italian...Two months ago, he took her for a drive, with another boyfriend. They made her drink whiskey. And then they tried to take advantage of her. She resisted. She kept her honor. So they beat her like an animal...She was the light of my life - my beautiful girl. Now she will never be beautiful again..."
Opening lines of Godfather ( IMDB# 1)
again an opening line from The Hurt Locker, Oscar winning (not read many books, watch movies so i will write things from movies, bit of apologies for that)
"The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug" - Chris Hedges
Wow, that is memorable indeed and the movie itself is unforgettable! Oh, that is fine to use an opening line from a movie, as most movies are from novels or had to start off in written form as a screenplay. Thank you for answering.
Your hubber name is interesting, what does it signify or mean, if you do not mind my asking?
Faith Reaper !
Thanks. SAQIB is my name and 6608 was my college No. Just can't forget it. Got so much attachment with my college.
By the way, Your Hubber name is "interesting" too
Hmmm, interesting. Thank you about my hubber name. Being my given name means "reaper" or "harvester" that is how I came up with Reaper, and I just threw in the "Faith" part, as I am growing in my faith each day. God bless. In His Love
Great Hubber name. May you get blessed. Warmly reciprocate the good deeds. Cheers
Thank you so much. I am already so blessed beyond measure, so I praise His name daily. Cheers!
Meanwhile i went through some of your hubs. You always have the brighter side of Life (Seeing the glass half full than saying empty), which is great
I appreciate you reading and sharing such a kind and generous comment here about my hubs. Peace and love
"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously."
-David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens-
Turns out, that's kind of the story of most people's lives. (Lol). We only hope things will not go downhill from there.
I love The Tale of Two Cities opening lines. It is such a classic and has been quoted over and over through the years. The entire book centers on those few lines and that is impressive!
Hi teaches, I know, The Tale of Two Cities opening lines is hard to beat in the memorable department, plus you're so right that the entire book centers on those few lines and is certainly most impressive! Thanks for sharing your added thoughts here.
"Ruth remembered drowning." ~ Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz. Great hook, don't you think?
"The first time I saw the sin eater was the night Granny Forbes was carried to her grave." ~ The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
"When it's two o'clock in the morning, and you're manic, even the UCLA Medical Center has a certain appeal." ~ An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison (Autobiography)
These are favorite books of mine. The Last Sin Eater was a Gold Medallion winner. It's a very unusual, quirky story. If you like Francine Rivers it's a must read, but very different than most of her other stories. I think it's a brilliant work. An Unquiet Mind was a #1 Bestseller for some time. A brilliant autobiographical work also about the life of a woman with manic depressive illness and also a psychologist at a prestigious hospital.
The Drowning Ruth was just a very unusual story and the opening line hooked me right away.
"Think that you will live up to 100 years. If you are born, say in 1956 then just shout I am just 58 years old and I will see the year 2056". Just imagination will make you feel younger then elders who have crossed 80 or 90 years. The lines in inverted comas are from the book "Look Younger Live Longer" by Gay Hauser edited in 1969. I have read this book at least 100 times and I start feeling young the moment I go deep into the book. Wonderful book indeed! Alas I could get the latest edition by the same author.
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." The first book in the Stephen King "Dark Tower" series.
"As long as there has been God, there have been God chasers." - God Chasers by Tommy Tenney.
Why memorable? It changed my life. If you chase God, He will find you. Did you catch that? If you did, hang on for the ride of your life!
"Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tackless person upon earth--- the most fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but is absolutely centered upon his own silly self." What a great line! Couldn't wait to read the rest of "The Lost World" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Classic. Read this followed with "King Solomons Mines" by Haggard.
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