Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

First Lines

As the clock struck thirteen, the pope picked up her empty packet of contraceptive pills and told her husband he’d need to use a condom….

Ahem!

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about first lines. How to have a cracking first line that will make people want to read on. How to have a truly crazy first line that will grab someone by the proverbial (insert body part here) and make them carry on reading. Especially in these days of instant gratification, where people have short attention spans. You can’t have a few pages of purple prose, no matter how beautiful it is, if it doesn’t grab the reader, you’ve sadly lost them.

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The concept of a great first line came to me when I first started writing, obviously, but that was many years ago. You get told numerous times by teachers at school, tutors, writing instructors, that you must hook your reader with a great first line, paragraph or page. I’d paid attention to this advice, but I’d never really worked hard on that first sentence until a while back when I read, ‘Waking Up Pregnant’ by Mira Lynn Kelly. Mira not only has a great first line on the first page, but has a great first line at the start of every new chapter or scene change! I literally couldn’t put the book down because just glancing at the next chapter and scanning my eyes over the first line would hook me again and force me to carry on reading! I love that book. I learned a lot from that book and it really enforced my writing. It made me look at the books I’d written so far and examine those crucial first sentences. Were they as good as they could be? Here they are below:

1. Callie Taylor stared hard at the pregnancy test kit.
2. “Why the hell are there all these cameras? How are you supposed to get any privacy around here?”
3. “Ben? Ben, it’s me…open your eyes.”

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So what about you? What is the best first line that you have written? What’s your favourite first line from someone else?

Louisa x

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16 thoughts on “First Lines”

  1. Oh my gosh, what is that opening first line from? I want to read that book! 🙂
    I like the ones mentioned here, but one of my favorites is the opening of 1984. I can’t remember it exactly, but it’s something like “it was a cold, dreary day in March and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
    I haven’t written a really great opening line yet. They get the job done, but nothing spectacular. Yet! 🙂

  2. Louisa,
    I wouldn’t say that this is my favorite first line but it is the one that always comes to mind regularly: “It was the best of times and the worst of times.” Oldie but goodie.
    Good hooks matter. They do keep you reading.

  3. Ooh I too don’t think you can underestimate the importance of a good first line and try really hard to make them jump out. I’ve not thought about making each new chapter one jump out mind (good point!) but I do try to end each chapter on an interesting point as well.

    One of my favourites that I’ve written is from Holding Out For A Hero – It had been two years, eight months and twenty-three days since Ella Lucas had last done the horizontal rumba.
    🙂

    Another fab one I read recently was from Jennifer Rae’s Confessions of A Bad Bridesmaid – It wasn’t just cold. It was bone-aching, tits freezing cold.

    🙂 🙂

    But I know when I go into a bookshop to buy a book, I’m reading the first page, not just the first line so authors have to be able to back up a winner 🙂

  4. Amy – your favourite first lines seem to have a theme! Cheeky aren’t they? But I really like that and both of those would make me read on. And yes, I read the first page too, not just the first line, I feel it would be grossly unfair to give up on a book just because the first line wasn’t amazingly brilliant.

  5. I’m not a writer but I read quite a bit. One of my all time favorite first lines is from Caron Todd’s Her Favorite Husband, a Superromance from Sept 08.

    As soon as she saw him she wanted to feel him inside her.

    I’m just reading a old series of Tanya Michaels’ Harlequin America Romance books from back in 08 and 09 also. Her Mistletoe Cinderella book book has a great start.

    It was a bad sign when you were feeling envious of the person in the casket.

  6. Reese, if you weren’t dead, I swear I’d kill you!
    One for the Road – my over forty roadtrip indie book. 🙂

  7. Yes, first lines are important but I agree with Amy, first page and chapters need to rock and every chapter should end on a hook. I have a fave first line from Saved By The Bride (mine) “Who knew that being a klutz and combining it with a distrust of wedding bouquets could lead to a black eye?”

  8. Blimey! What a minefield of delight. I love writing a first line – it’s just the whole rest of the book that seems to scupper me. Here’s my current first line: ‘Clawing herself out of the mud was one thing, but clawing herself out of the mud-filled moat via a seven meter mesh wall was another.’

    I would say current favourite first line is from The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain:
    ADAM:
    Dear Diary. This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way.

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