Literary Gems: “Opening Lines”
On YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJqNYnzrJ5PhZfIHIrdqpsA
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” That, my friend, is the way to open a novel. More than 100 years after it was written, it’s still timely.
Who knows what Charles Dickens was thinking when he penned his famous (and memorable) opening to “A Tale of Two Cities.” Whatever it was, he was right on. The only opening line more famous (and even older) is from the Torah:
“Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'arets."
What does it mean? I’ll give you a hint: “In the beginning, God created ...”
Well-crafted openings grab readers’ attention and set up a great story. Let’s take Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” for example:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
If you’re familiar Austin’s book, you know what a perfect set-up that is. How about “Anna Karenina“ by Leo Tolstoy
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
That, my friends, is a riddle, wrapped up in an enigma, with a side order of fries—hmmmmmm …. French fries.
One of my favorite books is George Orwell’s “1984,” so it must have a great opener. You bet your Big Brother’s life it does:
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
(Wait a minute … 12 is the highest number a clock can strike—or is it?)
“The Stranger” by Albert Camus has a short, and not very sweet, opening. Here it is:
"Mother died today.”
Kinda odd … yet suitable, in every way.
And, of course, I’ve got to bring up Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea.” (I always do.)
“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream, and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
If you can find a better opening to a book written by a Nobel Prize-winning author, let me know. I’m Jim Lamb, and you’ve just learned a little Somethin'-Somethin' about opening lines.
To view the video, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJkJ2JQAJeE&t=36s