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  • Writer's pictureSuzy K Quinn

50 Opening Lines from Famous Novels

Do you know these opening lines from famous novels?

I wonder how many of these famous opening lines you know? I’m not showing off, but I knew ALL fifty. Oh okay, that’s a lie. I knew about twenty of them. I bet you can do better.

As an author, I can tell you that first lines are EXTREMELY difficult to do. I have literally spend whole days on opening lines before – those few little words take a long time to get right!

Also, I know a bookshop owner who judges EVERY book she buys for her shop on the FIRST LINE ONLY! Talk about pressure.

Anyway, here are some awesome opening lines from famous novels. These guys sure can write … You can strip out the attributions and use these are a great quiz, btw!

 ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ – A Wrinkle in Time 

‘ The leather bound volume was nothing remarkable.’ – A Discovery of Witches

‘Everything in the room screamed that I didn’t belong.’ – Beautiful Disaster

‘1801 – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.’ – Wuthering Heights

 ‘Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife.’ – Wizard of Oz

‘My hands trembled slightly as I prepared my galley for the first class, pre-board service.’ Up in the Air

‘My Mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down.’ – Twilight

‘The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves.’ – Tuesdays with Morrie

‘When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.’ – To Kill a Mockingbird

‘Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while.’ – This Side of Paradise

‘I riffle through the piles and piles of paraphernalia sprawled all over my bedroom floor.’ – This Man

‘Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.’ – Their Eyes Were Watching God

‘Imagine a vast house, standing in a neighborhood, of others like it, each in its own distinct style.’ – Anne Rice Vampires

‘On December 8th, 1915, Meggie Cleary had her fourth birthday.’ – The Thornbirds

‘Sally.’ – The Stand

‘It’s funny what you hold on to, the things you remember when everything ends.’ – The Siren

‘When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.’ – The Secret Garden

‘Thursday January 1st: Bank Holiday in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.’ – Secret Diary of Adrian Mole

‘A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are only human in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.’ – The Scarlet Pimpernel

‘Sometimes it seems like all I ever do is lie.’ – The Princess Diaries

‘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.’ – The Outsiders 

‘Who am I?’ – The Notebook

‘Once when I was six years old I saw a beautiful picture in a book about the primeval forest called True Stories.’ – The Little Prince 

‘Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.’ – The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe 

‘It was seven o’clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips.’ – The Jungle Book 

‘There was death at its beginning as there would be death at its end.’ – The Horse Whisperer 

‘The house stood on a slight rise just on the edge of the village.’ – Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy 

‘In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.’ – Great Gatsby

‘It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.’ – The Giver

‘Natalie has been twirling that same lock of hair for the past ten minutes and it’s starting to drive me nuts.’ – Edge of Never 

‘The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.’ – The Dark Tower

‘We should head to a bar and celebrate.’ – Bared to You

‘If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.’ – Catcher in the Rye 

‘Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ – Harry Potter  

‘To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.’ – Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

‘On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blackmore or Blackmoor.’ – Tess of D’urbervilles 

‘It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.’ – Shantaram

‘The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex.’ – Sense and Sensibility

‘Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…’ – Romeo and Juliet

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ – Rebecca

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ – Pride and Prejudice

 ‘All children, except one, grow up.’ – Peter Pan

 ‘It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.’ – Outlander

‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ – 1984

‘Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small – to wit, a workhouse and in this workhouse was born, on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events, the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.’ – Oliver Twist 

‘”Oh, no, no, no, no, no!” Haley murmured in disbelief as she watched her pink, white, and yellow tulips yanked viciously out of the ground.’ – Neighbour from Hell series

‘My mother can’t see this right now, and that’s a really good thing.’ – Naked

 ‘When I was little, the great mystery to me wasn’t how babies were made, but why.’ – My Sister’s Keeper

‘Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.’ – Middlemarch

‘Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago…’ – Memoirs of a Geisha 

‘There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.’ – Me Before You

‘Jessica Randall scrambled out of the water-filled ditch, her heart hammering.’ – Masters of Shadowlands

‘It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.’ – Love in the Time of Cholera 

‘When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.’ – Lord of the Rings

‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.’ – Lolita 

‘”Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug’ – Little Women

 ‘In the year 1815 Monseigneur Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of Digne.’ – Les Miserable

‘”How can I make my CV more interesting, Kara? Even I wouldn’t employ me if this landed on my desk.”’ – Knight and Play 

‘There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.’ – Jayne Eyre

‘Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.’ – Gone with the Wind

 ‘”…Miss Mitchell?”’ – Gabriels Inferno

‘The Whistle Stop Cafe opened up last week, right next door to me at the post office, and owners Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison said business has been good ever since.’ – Fried Green Tomatoes 

‘Truly, when I was very young, way back in the ‘fifties, I believed all of life would be like one long and perfect summer day.’ – Flowers in the Attic

 ‘”You have got to be kidding me.” I groaned, kicking the tire of my piece-of-crap Toyota Corolla that had refused to start.’ – Find You in the Dark

‘I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.’ – Fifty Shades of Grey

 ‘I sigh into the welcoming silence, grateful for the chance to escape – even if momentarily – from the mindsuck of meaningless conversations on the other side of the door.’ – Driven Trilogy

‘I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.’ – Diary of Anne Frank 

‘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.’ – David Copperfield 

‘Robert Langdon awoke slowly.’ – Da Vinci Code

‘The fade into consciousness happened slowly, like the melting of ice.’ – Consequences 

‘”Grab my hand! I got you,” I said real soft, the helicopter lifting off the ground as Duke grabbed Snake Eyes’ hand.’ – Archer’s Voice

‘”Kill that baby!”’ – Acheron

’Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.’ – Charlottes Web

Beautiful, aren’t they?

So go on, show off! Tell me how many you knew on Twitter or Facebook.

Love, Suzy K Quinn xxx

the ivy lessons s quinn

[tweetthis]Suzy K Quinn is the author of teacher-student romance, the Ivy Lessons. This book goes on FLASH SALE every 30 days. Is today the lucky day? Take a look: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited Romance [/tweetthis] 

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