this article sort of on and sort of by Stephen King. The man spends as much time, it would seem, crafting his opening lines as he does on the rest of the book. Add to that the general discussion of opening lines in literature, and I felt a need to look at some of mine.
These are the opening lines from the non-cowritten, non-parodic fiction found here. I am going to be as self-absorbed as King and tell you why each is so dernd good.
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Frank walked around the chapel comforting his family, aware yet unaware that they were mourning him, that he was no longer with them.
Immediately, thauthor moves us from a pedestrian funeral scene to a shyamalanesque reversal of expectations as our hero is revealed to be, in fact, dead. Meanwhile, the mambypamby grammar warns the reader that this is not a thrillfest but a boring old literary tale. Only a gentleman wordsmith would be so honest.
It’s difficult to adjust to being dead.
This one, in stark contract to the prior story, is much more blunt about its being-dead ambitions. We the readers are instructed by thauthor to prepare ourselves for some thrilling scifi escapadery.
Growth arrives first, as he always does, though Decay charges in just after him.
Seemingly assaulted by allegorical characters, the reader has no choice but to accept that thauthor is either hackneyed or a genius. But his skilled use of commas prevents the former conclusion.
Davey Dow was walking down the street a bit earlier and a bit happier than was usual for a Friday afternoon (Friday, usually, being the least halcyon of his days), and anyone on the street who may have known him would have swiftly gotten out of his way with that long and peculiar sidelong glance reserved for the irredeemably weird.
Beginning with a series of nonassonantic long vowels and peppered throughout with bits of consonance, thauthor presents the reader a poetic introduction to what appears---based on the variance in vocabularic levels---will ultimately prove a comedic romp. What a charming introduction to such an alliterative character!
In 1852 when the McLeerys moved to America, they were pleased with New York and imagined they could make the city their permanent home.
The key word in this appears to be "imagined"---suggesting, as it does, that the information provided in this first sentence will ultimately be negated. This introduction via negativa is a balancing act lesser writers dare not attempt. Zowee!
The angel was having a hard time explaining the concept of a year to Adam & Eve.
While this simple sentence has a large number of things going on, what is most striking is the ampersand, suggested that thauthor prefer we, as reader, view this pairing of characters as inseparable. Through one fell character, such characterization!
“So! You must be Eric!”
By engaging the reader as if they were a character sharing a name with thauthor himself, he has immediately collapsed the distance between reader and writer, between reader and character, between character and writer. The postmodern has never been so personal.
Maurine slapped down onto the plush double bench across from a man in a well kempt but slightly old-fashioned suit.
The repurposed verb "slapped" youngifies our title character in preëmptive contrast to the second, unnamed character who is both a nascently identified individual and a representative of all older generations. Thauthor thus places the reader in a complicated tension: identifying with the young protagonist, while simultaneously being vastly more curious than her regarding the gentleman across. What profundity through such simple means!
Abandoning the car had been a good idea.
Who is the narrator? Who is the protagonist? What car? Where was it abandoned? In what way was abandoning it a good idea? One did one human penjockey creative such wonder and curiosity through a mere eight words?
Patient is stuck on a spaceship.
The immediate contrast between "Patient" and "is stuck" throws the reader into awe at the literary balancing act---but thauthor was not satisfied with that bit of quilly magic; he has followed it up immediately with the whiplash-inducing "spaceship." What other working scribbler would make such demands upon his readership?
Four years had passed since Mary had died; Torrance still wasn’t comfortable dating and yet here he was, getting married.