Seeking my opening line

The opening line of a novel is one of the worst struggles for writers.

It has been my worst obstacle ever since I started writing my manuscript. I have changed it so many times, but still haven’t found the one. Here I am, still revising and searching.


There are so many types of opening lines out there.






Or, perhaps, opening lines are a combination of these.

As a part of my journey, I have researched other lines for my own inspiration. If you’d like to check out some ideas here are a few:

100 Best First Lines of Novels

38 Best First Lines in Novels

Hook, Line and Sinker

I went to my TBR pile and listed first lines out of the following books:

I hate First Friday. – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache. – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed. – The Magicians by Lev Grossman

When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. – The Selection by Kiera Cass

So, here is where you come in. The next step of my mission to find the opening line is to ask my writer friends to read the following potential lines and vote for their favorite. Or, come up with another version. Friendly critiques are welcome!

Line 1: I stared at the blue door with anguish.

Line 2: The blue door that once gave me passage for comfort, now wrenched my heartstrings.

Line 3: The other side of this blue door would never be the same.

Line 4: The blue door never stood in my way before now.

And for perspective, here is the rest of the opening after the first line:

Today would be the first time I entered the coffee shop without seeing my dad behind the counter. Through the cracked window, I watched the busy morning picking up. Business as usual. Another customer breezed past me and swung open the blue door without hesitation. My chest rattled and a tingle encroached my skin. A savory medium roast escaped through the old door and cloaked my senses, attempting to hug my soul. But the distinct coffee fragrance was absent of my dad’s presence.

Thank you for your time! If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

  1. Coryl o'Reilly

    Definitely, definitely think number 3 works the best! It offers contradiction: a door blocking someone’s way? It evokes the most curiosity. It also implies a change. The third one does as well, but it’s on-the-nose about the new change.

    A small comment on the paragraph: I think the curiosity would be furthered without the second line. At the end of the paragraph, the narrator repeats the sentiment (the absent father) that carries the first line’s curiosity: why is it different now? What’s stopping the narrator? You remove that curiosity by explaining it right after. The way you described the smell of the food was really great! I could almost taste everything.

    Also, the second one doesn’t need the comma (sorry, my editing side coming out! That construction of commas after nouns-with-adjective-phrase-subjects is one of my biggest pet peeves).

  2. Senna

    When I first wrote the first post of Arc 1 (back on Tumblr), I just used two words as an opener:

    “Sunday morning.”

    I still tend to count that as the opener, even though it became the chapter title when I moved it to WordPress. Still, it was the best I could think of (I couldn’t think of a good title, so I improvised)

  3. jacymerrill

    I love the editing side coming out! Thank you!!

  4. Ellen Seltz

    #3. No question. You have a status-quo, and a high-stakes change right there. Exactly what a story needs to start. You also answer the implicit question, “Why does the story start today? What’s different?”

  5. D.M. Domosea

    By themselves, I like number 4. I agree with Coryl in that the contradiction evokes immediate curiosity and interest. But put with the rest of the paragraph, I’m not sure I understand why it now “stands in her way.” Unless….opening the door and NOT seeing her father there is NOT what she wants to see, and thus, opening the door stands in the way of what the belief she wants to cling to that her father is still alive.

    Umm…okay, that’s too much inference. LOL. In context with the paragraph, I would choose number 1, and change “with” to “in” – “I stared at the blue door in anguish.” It’s clean and straightforward, like many of the opening lines you picked out.

    Hang in there – it’ll all come together!

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