02 November 2006

Short story first lines

One of my critique groups has been having a (offline--I know, it's shocking) discussion about best first lines of novels. See, for example, 100 Best First Lines from Novels. (Thanks for the link, Dave!)

Of course, Electric Spec focuses on short stories, so I thought I'd look at some short story first lines. I must admit I cheated and just looked in my 2005 "Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction" Edited by Gardner Dozois with a forward by Robert Silverberg.
Here are some intriguing short story first lines (YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK. It truly is the best of the best.)

  • There is a principle in nature I don't think anyone has pointed out before.
  • I awoke this morning to discover that bioengineering had made demands upon me during the night.
  • It all started when Cletus Jefferson asked himself "Why aren't all blind people geniuses?"
  • So the white men are back!
  • Mae lived in the last village in the world to go on line.

What's your idea of a good short story first line? :)


Betsy Dornbusch said...

You'll hear this again, but my all-time favorite first line, book or story, is Tad William's

It began in mud, as so many things do.

Betsy Dornbusch said...
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Betsy Dornbusch said...

How about this one for a story?

"I'd put a condom in the little black purse that I took to the funeral, a good thing, too."

This is from my own, as yet unpublished, flash piece. I wanted to post it because the first line came to be before the rest of the story and I still really like it.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

it's awesome, of course.

Rashenbo said...

Great links guys and gals! Thanks.