July 26, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night.

I love reading. I consume books like a beggar invited to a buffet. Non-fiction or fiction, it does not matter. As long as it is something that interests me and makes me want to turn the page. Half-Price Books in Dallas was my favorite spot to play, especially during the long, hot summers. Not having anything like that here, I find myself scouring the libraries of Orlando to satiate my habit.
Now, as I am aspiring to be found on the shelf next to these works, the writer in me always notes the style, structure, language use, etc. One can study how to write, but the best way to learn is by example. And there are plenty of those in this world.
My favorite part of any work of fiction has to be the first sentence. This almost always tells me how much I will enjoy the rest of the story. Admittedly, there are many best-selling authors whose first lines will not grab you. Either it is because they know people will read them anyway. Or they prolong this "hook" for the first paragraph. But all in all, those stories that hook you with the first sentence have become stories I will read again.
These are some of my favorites:
"Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing." Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." 1984 by George Orwell

"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Did you know, the title of this post is actually from a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton called Paul Clifford? He's also the author of the line "The pen is mightier than the sword."

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