Friday, December 16, 2011

First Line Friday!

This week, we are returning to a good first line, as opposed to a bad one. This week’s stellar first line is from a novel that is obviously a standout. It’s brief, just 14 words. But is says a lot . . . and that’s the sign of a good first line.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

Why is this line so great? Simply because as you read it, everything flows nicely, until you slam your face into the last word. Thirteen? The clocks were striking thirteen?

That one profound word, “Thirteen,” immediately proposes to the reader that some sort of alternative reality is at hand. Why? Because we don’t have clocks that strike thirteen. It’s genius. One word throws us for an extreme loop. You are only 14 words into the novel, and you’ve already had to stop and reassess the reality of what you’re reading.

What novel is blessed with this first line?

Orwell’s 1984, of course.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say this novel's last line (He loved Big Brother) is equally sparse, yet equally powerful.