Before a title, before the characters, before anything else, I know my first line.
Since my first attempts as a writer, I couldn’t embark on a new project without knowing that first line—as if a simple sentence was the embryo for everything that was to follow. In The School for Good and Evil, for instance, those opening words: “Sophie had waited her whole life to be kidnapped” became my guiding light through the Endless Woods of dark fairy tale fantasy. Indeed, that first line became the series’ entire DNA template; when in doubt, I’d ritually look back at it to see not just a ‘beginning,’ but tone, theme, character, inspiration.
To writers new and old, then, I offer this list as a gentle encouragement to keep our ambitions low and our boldness high. After all, embarking on a quest to write the perfect novel is a fool’s fantasy. But a perfect first line is within all of our reach.