"This is how River Cartwright slipped off the fast track and joined the slow horses."It's from Mick Herron's Slow Horses. It's about a kind of grunt squad where British spies go when they screw up. I don't know yet if I'm going to like the book, but with an opening like that, I stand a better chance of reading long enough to find out.
Here are some openings from the other book I have immediately at hand:
"It was a wandering daughter job."Each of those three openings — and Mick Herron's as well — does what an opening sentence needs to do. It's surprising, it tells a little story in a tiny bit of space, and it leaves the reader wondering what happens next. That's important for impatient readers, such as your humble blog keeper.
"`I'm Tom-Tom Carey,' he said, drawling the words."
"`I haven't anything very exciting to offer you this time,' Vance Richmond said as we shook hands. I want you to find a man for me—a man who is not a criminal."
I've discussed first lines several times (scroll down), occasionally asking you to pick your favorites. This time I'll ask you to get theoretical. What must the opening line of a piece of fiction do to make you keep reading?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010