I’ve been thinking about first pages a lot lately. When I look for good examples in published books there is one book I keep coming back to. This was a book I found and read solely on the strength of its first line. The book is SILENT IN THE GRAVE by Deanna Raybourn.
It starts with this:
“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
Isn’t it intriguing? Who is Nicholas Brisbane and why is he the focus rather than her twitching dying husband? Also, there’s a bit of dry humor in these sentences that made me know I would like the writing.
“I stared at him, not quite taking in the fact that he had just collapsed at my feet. He lay, cured like a question mark, his evening suit ink-black against the white marble of the floor. He was writhing, his fingers knotted.”
This sets the stage for what is happening. We also learn something about their socio-economic station in life. They have a marble floor; he wears an evening suit. We also learn a little about their marriage.
“I leaned as close to him as my corset would permit.”
Here, with the reference to the corset, it sets the time period.
“’Edward, we have guests. Do get up. If this is some sort of silly prank—“
Again, this sets up their relationship. If my husband fell to the ground convulsing I wouldn’t stand there and accuse him of pranking, or worry about guests. Though married, they weren’t close, definitely not in love, which brings us back to who could that Nicholas Brisbane be? He shows up in the next paragraph but I’ll let you keep going on your own.
I love how these few sentences set the backdrop and the characters. I may not know Edward well enough to be devastated at his dying, but there are so many questions, so much vivid description that I want to keep reading. That is the goal of a good opening.
What is your favorite opening? Do you have one that you keep going back to?