Reality Is Overrated

I begin with writing the first sentence—and trusting to Almighty God for the second. —Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Writer's block: a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. Well, that's definitely going on around here. You should be reading a Throwback Thursday post right now—we're long overdue for one of those, aren't we? Rest assured (because I can't) that it's not from lack of effort.

The past couple days have felt eerily familiar to my novel-writing days, or rather, my lack of novel-writing days. I'm stuck in a quagmire of uncreativity. Not a real word, I know, but it's the best I've got. I'm suffering from writer's block, remember? Side note: if you look up the antonym for creativity, it's reality. Which does aptly describe my life right now; there's been far too much reality dwelling lately for a girl who thrives in her own alternate universe.

While I work on pushing pesky reality aside and finding my way back to creative land, here are some favorite first lines from novels I love, as well as some from novels I'm yet to read, whose first lines make me want to add them to my ever-growing, reality-defying stack of books. Ah, the search for that perfect first sentence—the one that will pull your readers in and entice them to pull up a chair and stay a good long while. I know that search has kept me up nights. These authors make it look easy and I'm trying really hard not to hate them for it.


Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. —Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

You better not never tell nobody but God. —Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups

I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. —W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge

Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
—George Eliot, Middlemarch

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. —C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. —Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

All this happened, more or less. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984

I once believed that heroes existed only in old men's fables, that evil in the world had triumphed over good, and that love—a true, unselfish and abiding love—could only be found in a little girl's imagination. —Camron Wright, The Rent Collector

I'm stopping now or I never will. Well, at least not for a few more hours. There are so many more I could share. What are some first lines that have stuck with you through the years?

Posted by Rachel