First Line Test: Fiction Part 3

For this First Line Test Part 3, we’re covering some novels that were on the Fiction featured shelf at Barnes & Noble.

Just a recap on why we’re even looking a these first lines: to help you discover what first lines work, which ones don’t, possible ways to improve, etc. It’s about growing as a writer and seeing what pulls you in and what doesn’t, and hopefully helps you analyze whether your first line is doing its job.

Definition of a First Line: A first line doesn’t necessarily have to be a single line but a few phrases that encompass the preliminary emotion/tone/imagery a reader is introduced to.

Your task: Give it all to me: the good and the bad. What can be improved? Could you possibly rewrite it to enhance it? Don’t be afraid to practice and see ways we can enhance it. Let’s play!

Let’s see if these published books hook you enough to buy them. Let me know in the comments below.


Analysis #1:

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia

What do you think? First, let me just share an image from this illustrated version of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Camille Rose Garcia. They are GORGEOUS!

Anyway, back to the objective. Right away, the whimsical writing and cadence exudes Alice’s personality and thought processes. It’s such a beautiful and fairytale like beginning that doesn’t follow the traditional “Once upon a time” format.

And of course, with all of us being a lover of the written word, I find Alice’s thoughts about the purpose of a book without pictures or conversations quite chuckle worthy.

Love this. ❤


Analysis #2:

“Aimée was never told why Henri came to live with them. She was never told anything that mattered. She used to think it was because she was a girl, and only boys got to know the truth about things, but eventually she came to understand that some things are better left unknown.”

Girl in the Afternoon by Serena Burdock

What do you think? I love the MC’s thought progression: that “only boys got to know the truth about things” and then “eventually she came to understand that some things are better left unknown.”

I’m quite curious as to what may have transpired to make her understand that “some things [were] better left unknown.”

Well done. The hook works very well.


Analysis #3:

“Jack Ryan, Jr., would later wonder what exactly had saved his life that night. One thing was certain: It hadn’t been skill. Maybe the heft of the bok choy had bought him a split second, maybe the mud, but not skill. Dumb luck. Survival instinct.”

Tom Clancy Duty and Honor by Grant Blackwood

What do you think? I have always been a fan of Suspense Thrillers because their beginnings always include a line or idea that makes your brain start working. You’re already mentally invested in the characters. Throw in some military and war themes? Heck to the yes.

Right away, questions of “what night?”, “what happened”, and “why did he have a bundle of bok choy and how did it help?”

Good stuff here.



What do you think? Did one of them stand out to you and catch your attention? Could one be worked on? What do you think?




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