Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

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What’s My Line?

By Sandra Elzie

Years ago there was a weekly show called What’s My Line and a panel of of celebrities had to ask questions of the guest to try to determine who they were or what they did in life.

Today we won’t be asking questions…or trying to determine what someone does for a living, but instead, we’ll be taking a look at one-liners what catch a reader’s attention.

In writing a book, sometimes our “line” is the opening line and is meant to grab the reader’s interest…or maybe it’s the final line of a chapter where you try to “hook” the reader’s interest so that he/she keeps right on reading into the next chapter to find out what happens.

Today I’d love to hear your favorite opening line (from one of your own stories…or from a book that you’ve read recently) or maybe the last line of a chapter that had you automatically turning the page despite telling yourself that you’d only ready to the end of the chapter and then turn off the light and get some sleep.

I’ll start by giving you a couple of my favorite lines.

From Watch For The Dawn (to be released soon)   

An ice-tipped gale roared down from the surrounding snow-covered mountains like a bully on his next victim.

From  Behind Door Two ( by Sandra McGregor)

Flying had always been as natural as swimming or horseback riding…until now.


Okay, so now it’s your turn…share your favorite opening line…or chapter hook line.


About the Author:


Sandra Elzie, also writing as Sandra McGregor, has been writing since she can remember.  She got serious about fifteen years ago and now has two books out through Montlake Publishing and eleven out through e-pub.  In her spare time, she reads and loves to travel.





Marilyn Baron - August 26, 2014 - 4:49 am

The first line in my new book, Stones, a humorous women’s fiction is:

Thank God for lint.

Carol Burnside - August 26, 2014 - 4:51 am

Hmmm… Oh, I know!

From Deborah Smith’s The Crossroads Cafe:
“Before the accident, I never had to seduce a man in the dark.”

I had a half dozen questions just from that one line.

And from Nobody’s Baby, which I’m hoping to publish before Christmas the first two lines: Four weeks to freedom.
Katherine Morrisey longed for the day her body wouldn’t be on loan anymore.

Piper - August 26, 2014 - 6:55 am

It’s a wonderful skill to be able to craft first lines like that! Wonderful. Mine in The Preacher’s Promise is: Amanda Stewart had nothing but the clothes on her back.

As a reader, I will read beyond the first line to give a book a chance, but they are important these days for writers. Great post!

Connie Gillam - August 26, 2014 - 11:03 am

I have to confess that writing a great opening sentence or paragraph is tough for me. I rewrite the opening a thousand times and I’m never satisfied with it.
From my young adult novel, The 5th Realm:
Huge and menacing, Haverford Academy looms in front of me like something out of a Stephen King novel.

From Nora’s Immortal in Death: Getting married was murder.

Walt Mussell - August 26, 2014 - 11:20 am

When I saw the reference to “What’s My Line,” I thought of the intro to “Catch Me If You Can.” The movie begins with the world’s most infamous con man going on What’s My Line to trick the panel.

From a Barry Eisler novel: The last thing (Character) thought about, before a bullet went through his brain, was that things were finally looking up. Then the entire chapter goes through the challenges the guy has had recently and then ends with the words “Things are finally looking up.”

Maxine Davis - August 26, 2014 - 3:27 pm

Sandy, Good post. I do like the opening (2 ines) in One For The Money by Janet Evanovich: THERE ARE SOME men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me—not forever, but periodically. And,of course, JK Rowling’s opening line in HP and The Scorcerer’s Stone. And really, too many to name. I enjoyed recalling them (and looking them up, lol)

Sandy Elzie - August 26, 2014 - 6:25 pm

Oh, Marilyn, I love that line! It tells you right away that it’s going to be humorous. Great line.

Sandy Elzie - August 26, 2014 - 6:28 pm

I haven’t read Crossroads Cafe, but that line conjures up all kinds of questions about the story. Intriguing. And as for your first line from Nobody’s Baby, that line is enough for me to know I’ll want to read your upcoming book. Thanks for sharing.

Sandy Elzie - August 26, 2014 - 6:31 pm

Great line, Piper. It set’s the stage for the reader to already have sympathy for Amanda and be on her side in whatever the story was going to be. Thanks for sharing.

Sandy Elzie - August 26, 2014 - 6:39 pm

I’m with you, Connie. First lines…or in my case, the first few pages, are tough. I rewrite and rewrite. Your opening line tells me right away that it’s going to be a scary ride…or at least that it’s making her shiver. That’s what Steven King stories do to me. Thanks for commenting.

Sandy Elzie - August 26, 2014 - 6:42 pm

Goodness, Walt, what a line that is. It not only tells that things must have been really bad for the fellow before, but gives promise for a story to come. It hangs the reader in the middle…wondering what happened to put him in this spot and wondering how it’s going to get better. Thanks for commenting.

Sandy Elzie - August 26, 2014 - 6:48 pm

Hi Maxine,
Yes, yes, yes…Love Janet’s opening line about men screwing up her life, etc. Great picture painting with words.

Here’s a couple of others I like:

John Grisham’s The Firm: The senior partner studied the resume for the hundredth time and again found nothing he disliked about Mitchell Y. McDeere, at least not on paper.

Or: Nora Roberts’ The Witness: Elizabeth Fitch’s short-lived teenage rebellion began with L’Oreal Pure Black, a pair of scissors and a fake ID. It ended in blood.

Bruce - August 26, 2014 - 7:12 pm

may two favorites are………YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH, and one that I have no idea where it came from……….ANOTHER DAY ABOVE GROUND……..

sandra Elzie - August 26, 2014 - 10:05 pm

Good ones, Bruce. Both would make me want to read on.

Thanks for dropping by.

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