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. 


  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!

  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

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