I have been swimming in Dick Francis mysteries for the past few weeks - well, re-swimming, really. It has been an interesting exercise listening to the rhythms of his plots while admiring his tight use of language. He always writes in first person, his protagonists are always male and his first lines always throw you right into the plot's deep end.
This got me thinking about first lines: here's a brief sample of some I particularly enjoy:
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.
A.A. Milne - Winnie the Pooh
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?'
Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
J.R.R. Tolkien - The Hobbit
William Shakespeare - Hamlet
"Mrs Whitaker found the Holy Grail; it was under a fur coat."
Neil Gaiman - Chivalry
"All children, except one, grow up"
J.M. Barrie - Peter Pan
Early this morning, 1st January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenous Aires, aged twenty-five years, two months and twelve days.
PD James - Children of Men
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell - 1984
James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.
Ian Fleming - Goldfinger
The last camel died at noon.
Ken Follet - The Key to Rebecca
They both wore thin rubber masks.
Dick Francis - Bonecrack
Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.
Ruth Rendall - A Judgement in Stone
Please share your favourite first line - or your favourites!
Please note: I'm very pleased to be hosting Margot Kinberg of "Confessions of a Mystery Novelist" on Thursday as a stop on her "Magical Mystery Blog Tour". Margot will be writing about those nasty 'writing demons' and how she dealt with them while writing her latest mystery novel "B-Very Flat".