wise old beginnings

I believe that the first sentence of a book, as the opening of a new relationship between story and reader, is an opportunity to show what is most important in the story.

I have been attracted to first sentences for many years now. I love best the ones which contain not only the beginning of the story but its heart and ending also. Today, I offer you a few of my favourites.




He was a child of the horned moon. - The Sorceress & The Cygnet, Patricia McKillip.

My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die. - On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta.

The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California. - Always Coming Home, Ursula le Guin.

The old south land lies across the world like an open hand, hollowed a little at the palm. - The Song of Wirrun, Patricia Wrightson. 

Barrabas came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy. - The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende. 

Mabel had known there would be silence. - The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey.

I am currently working on a story, slow and careful, waiting for it to resolve out of words into certainty. This is its first sentence - 

The night is singing, here in forgotten lands. 

3 comments:

  1. Yes, I do believe you are correct, sarah. First sentences do contain a certain alchemical echo that reverberates across space and time. Your first sentence in this new work of yours is no different. Simply alluring!

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  2. I'm so much in awe of all these beginning sentences. I'm not a wordy person myself but my imagination soars to read these words. How clever these writers are!
    Jess x

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  3. Oh Sarah!! Your sentence is miraculous. I need to read the rest immediately!

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