Last week on Miss Snark I saw this quote attributed to Joshilyn Jackson, author of GODS IN ALABAMA and BETWEEN, GEORGIA, April 4, 2006, Faster Than Kudzu, writing about opening a book with immediate conflict. "I think the best way to let the reader meet your characters is to put them all in a room and then light one of them on fire."
The one opening line I've always remembered is from Julie Garwood's HONOR'S SPLENDOUR. "They meant to kill him." I immediately want to know who and why. Now, this book is copyrighted in 1987, so it's almost ten years since I first read it. Lately, I can't seem to remember much of anything, but this I remember.
One of the hardest things for me to learn was where to start my book. I always wanted to start at the beginning and in fiction, that's not the best place to start. Even today, I still sometimes struggle to find the right place.
Lest someone take my statements the wrong way, I'm certainly not saying all books have to open with a singular line to grab attention. Some of mine do. In "Be Mine" (winner of the 2002 National Reader's Choice Award) my novella in MY FUNNY VALENTINE my opening line is "My family is demented." In THE DUCHESS & THE DEVIL the opening is "The devil strolled through the door." My other three books don't start with a snappy one-liner, but hopefully, they still garner interest.
Do you have any memorable opening lines? How do you decide where to start your manuscript?