They say a great work should start with a great opening line. I think for the most part that’s true. Depending on the genre, some works call for a softer opening as long as something ‘punchy’ soon follows. Here are a few of mine:
It began with blood on his son’s face. — Community Standing (Shotgun Honey)
LIGHT AND SHADOW could easily trick the eye. Every painter understood that and while Henry Barnsdale-Stevens was not an artist, the manipulation of form by sketching on a flat surface to create a three-dimensional image had always intrigued him. Just as other worlds intrigued him. — A Fistful of Dust; Space 1889 (Untreed Reads)
THE PECULIAR RUBBER linings of the pressured corridors absorbed sound so that Arnaud almost failed to notice the first cough. The sound only registered when the word “slacker” was whispered, rounded off by another cough. — Mundus Cerialis; Space, 1889 (Untreed Reads)
Strange that winter should be feminine. — The Texture of Winter (Untreed Reads)
Émile beheld the rough lines of age and labour in the hand before him. — Bitter and Intoxicating (Red Velvet and Absinthe – Cleis Press)
He broke the neck of the first swan the day after her funeral. — Swansong (I Do Anthology – MLR)
Phillip Drake walked into the room, interrupting a conversation. He hadn’t knocked, and he hadn’t asked anyone’s permission, but deliberately so—he loved what he could catch people doing when he broke the rules of morality like that. — Hard Pressed (Calm and Chaos) novel (Musa Publishing)
“Mr. Sandford?” The breathy voice entered his ear, fluttering around, circling his eardrum like a moth seeking out a flickering flame. Distracted, the words burned up as effectively as an insect with a death wish. The wait was killing him. If hell existed on earth, Nick stood right in the flames. — Acting Out (Calm and Chaos) novel (Musa Publishing)
It was difficult to judge which emerged from Lenny’s pub first, though, all things considered, if he’d been stark naked, the chances were Dean’s erection would have led the way. — Snow Angel novel (LooseId)
A firm grasp shrouded Jay’s cock in heat. — Angel Heart (sequel to Snow Angel)
The abyss gleamed golden. Black, certainly, but golden. Sometimes the gold was so pale it looked white, but that was the ice. At times, he was made of ice, a sculpture. — The first of the Swithin Chronicles trilogy (LooseId)
The Swithin Chronicles all begin with a poetic prophecy followed by a prologue so I’ve chosen to share the opening lines of the first chapters for the main trilogy where they have a softer beginning before a jolt of action:
Markis watched the day’s light fade. Night breezes sprang up as only to be expected, stirring the leaves and bringing with them the rich, almost warm scent of the night magnoli. — The Swithin Chronicles 1: Uly’s Comet
Twin towering cliffs created a valley. The wind blowing through the gorge poured out and rushed across the desert, stirring the sand. — The Swithin Chronicles 2: The Comet’s Tail
Frowning, Uly strained to look upward. It did no good. What little he could see of the fastenings about his wrists in no way helped his situation. — The Swithin Chronicles 3: The Comet Cometh
“So, explain to me more precisely why you’ve dragged me on this little jaunt.” — A Swithin Spin 1: A Queen’s Move (LooseId)
The prisoner lifted his head as the light shifted. — A Swithin Spin 2: Redemption (currently unavailable)
“Are you suggesting I need to have sex?” Even knowing Ryanac as he did, Antal gaped in disbelief. — A Swithin Spin 3: A Princely Passion (LooseId)
“I don’t like this.” — Cosmic novel (LooseId)
“I need space, man. I can’t be tied down at my age. There’s waves out there just waiting for me, dude.” — Space, Man (Loose-id ‘fling’ — out of contract, withdrawn by author, shelved for republication)
“This is rather…bright.” — Nights in Pink Satin (Changeling Press)
Wishes did come true. At least if this was Crassius, one particular wish had. Licinius stared at the tall, muscular dark-haired knight who stood dripping in the doorway of his tent and could only gape. — A Good Knight (Changeling Press)
“This isn’t just about you. There’s James to consider.” Robert paced around the room, realised he didn’t know what half the stains beneath his feet were, and stopped. — An Act of Generosity (Changeling Press)
“This is Captain Vernon Attwater taking over the Flight of Fancy. — Marooned (Changeling Press)
Peter Blake couldn’t decide which of the aprons he hated the most. — All Washed Up (Changeling Press)
“Bitch!” — Hounding the Beat (Protect and Serve) (Changeling Press)
Adam wouldn’t have minded Sunday dinners at his parents’ so much, if the conversation didn’t always follow the same pattern. — Faerie (Changeling Press
The busy atmosphere inside the bar did nothing to ease Armand’s fatigue. All it did was add yet another item to his list of annoying things — a list he changed as often as there were hours in the day. — Toasted (Changeling Press)
I made the mistake of looking up. — Curt Courting (Changeling Press)
Chantelle stood in the doorway that segregated the private part of the building from the public one. Bobby stood behind her at the base of the stairs. Wearing nothing but knickers and a T-shirt, the garment’s wide neckline hanging loose so that it framed her right shoulder, Chantelle hoped she would make an appealing spectacle once Sam caught sight of her. — Mistletoe and Whine (Changeling Press)
He tried not to show his anguish as the ball of paper — a precious thing — struck the chalkboard, but no doubt, they noticed the instant tightening between his shoulders. — The Teacher (longer length short story previously published by Forbidden Fruit Zine now available at Musa Publishing)
I lay in bed trying to remember my name. — Degrees of Sickness short story published by Midnight Street now available upon joining The Alternative Read yahoo group.
He tasted like rubies. — Effigy in Garnet short story published by Aoife’s Kiss ‘Sam’s Dot Publishing’ and subsequently also published in Night To Dawn.
He ran, arms pumping, feet pounding, slapping against the pavement. — The Stalker short story published by Dark Moon Rising
Once a year I pick apples from my garden and bake pies with them, but I know people who leave fruit to rot on the tree. — A La Mode essay published by a west country newsletter I used to write for.
Potential talent has always had the problem of being recognised, tapped, and finding its place in the world. — Another One Bites the Dust article on the plight of small press has been published seven times.
Some people would say I live a small life. — My Wild City essay previously published.
On a world of the twenty-five hour day, of a thirty-three minute hour, it is approaching midnight. — Silver Apples of the Moon published by Roadworks
In this room of ancient whispers — The Kiss of Ghosts poem published by Roadworks
Paper fluttering in a cold breeze — Scourge poem published by Whispers of Wickedness