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Writing => Fiction Writing => Topic started by: Odd John on April 11, 2021, 06:39:24 AM

Title: Famous Openings: First Paragraphs
Post by: Odd John on April 11, 2021, 06:39:24 AM
This might be a useful thread. Post your favorite opening from a famous title. "Favorite" can mean good favorite or bad favorite. Let's see how.

(Of course "good" means "strong" and "bad" means "weak". Quoting is OK if following the "excerpt" exception to copyright law.)

I'll start:


"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go around, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen."

Although a bit of a roomy rumination, I place this in the "good" column.
Title: Re: Famous Openings: First Paragraphs
Post by: Johnny 5 on April 11, 2021, 07:36:42 AM
Great opening. I've not read Lady Chatterley's Lover yet, but those words could be as applicable today as they were in 1920s. Makes me want to know the rest of the speaker's views. I say GOOD too.

To share my favorite (and I'm not really a literary fiction fan, but these words stuck with me the moment I picked up this book years ago. The line that haunts me and creates such vision I have placed in bold):


    The Old Church, Amsterdam: Tuesday, 14th January 1687.

    The funeral is supposed to be a quiet affair, for the deceased had no friends. But words are water in Amsterdam, they flood your ears and set the rot, and the church’s east corner is crowded. She watches the scene unfold from the safety of the choir stall, as guildsmen and their wives approach the gaping grave like ants toward the honey. Soon, they are joined by VOC clerks and ship’s captains, regentesses, pastry-makers – and him, still wearing that broad-brimmed hat. She tries to pity him. Pity, unlike hate, can be boxed and put away.
Title: Re: Famous Openings: First Paragraphs
Post by: Odd John on April 11, 2021, 09:52:35 AM
Quite good. I prefer the close: "Pity, unlike hate, can be boxed and put away."

BTW, the publishing history of this DEBUT novel is remarkable:

"Burton, who had studied English literature at the University of Oxford before embarking on an acting career, wrote the novel over a period of four years while supporting herself as an actress and PA in the City of London.[3][4] She came up with the idea while on holiday in Amsterdam, where she viewed Petronella Oortman's doll house at the Rijksmuseum, and undertook extensive research on 17th-century Amsterdam, studying books, cookbooks, Dutch Golden Age paintings, maps, and wills.[2][3][4] She trimmed the word count from 120,000 words to 80,000 words after participating in a creative writing course in 2011 and to better match the marketing target readership.[4]

The novel was the focus of a publishers' bidding war at the 2013 London Book Fair.[2] Of the 11 publishers that vied for the book, Picador won the UK and British Commonwealth rights for a reported six-figure sum.[4][5]

The UK cover design is a photograph of an actual miniature doll's house commissioned by Picador, which reflects characters and elements in the novel."