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  • Writer's pictureNicole Wilbur

200 First Lines

What makes a great first line?

This is a multi-factorial, incredibly subjective question writers talk about all the time. How do I grab a reader's (or agent's or editor's) attention? How do I set the tone for the story? How do I convey character and setting? It's a lot to ask of a single line.

We all know one of the best ways to learn how to improve our writing is by studying the writing we love. So what better way to learn how to write a great first line than to study 200 of them? So I did. I wrote down the first lines of 200 books on my shelves, noting the genre and the title. I then rated each one from 1-5, with 1 being "this doesn't grab my interest or attention at all" and 5 being "I wanted to stop this experiment and read the full book the moment I read it).

I compiled my findings into this YouTube video, if that's something you'd be interested in.

A pdf of these 200 first lines from 200 books, spanning YA to historical fiction, fantasy, biography, contemporary, and some I really didn't know how to classify, can be found below!

First Lines Round-Up - First Lines
Download PDF • 152KB

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