Opening lines are important. Every book has them, like these books, pictured.

You only get one chance to grab a reader and drag them into your story—make them so intrigued they can’t help but read on. Just one more paragraph. One more page. Another chapter.

The first opportunity you get, is the opening line. Arguably, those opening lines are the most important part of your novel. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the destiny of your book rests on those words. This sentence has the power to make or break or your book. Will the reader read them and be hooked, unable to put the book down? Or will it fall flat and leave your novel destined for the slush pile?

There is also no other sentence that has the power to become iconic. Something generations of readers remember. Think George Orwell’s thought provoking opening in 1984:

“It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Or Steven King’s ominous beginning in IT:

The terror that would not end for another 28 years, if it ever did, began so far as I can know or tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”

Or the classic from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick:

“Call me Ishmael.”

That’s why Sarah and I have been painstakingly rewriting the beginning of the first book in our series, When the Rain Falls. We felt the opening sentence wasn’t quite right. It didn’t grab the reader and pull them into the story enough.

However, with so much riding on those opening words, it was difficult. I worked on them for almost two weeks. Writing. Rewriting. Deleting them. Starting again. But today, I had a breakthrough. My puppy was up at 6:00 am, and not wanting to wake the rest of my household, puppy and I sat outside in the early morning sun. I pulled out my laptop and the words came effortlessly. When I saw them— sixty words on an otherwise blank page—I just knew they were right.

What are your favourite opening lines? Or, how do you go about writing the opening lines of your novel?

Let us know in the comments below.



I know it’s been a while, but it’s time for an update on my lab work.

Excitingly, I am in the final stages of my current electrochemistry project. It has been a long road to get to this point. I had to develop new chemistry, learn a whole new synthetic technique, and troubleshoot my way in a relatively new field of research. Right now, I’m in the process of tidying up a few loose ends before we begin the process of preparing the manuscript for publication (watch this space).

And I have a new project on the horizon, still in the field of electrochemical synthesis. But with different molecules. I’m really looking forward to doing something different, and pushing the limits of what electrochemistry can do.

So, with a new lab project in the works, and Sarah and I in the planning stages of our new novel it feels like change is in the wind. I don’t know where these new projects will take me, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.


P.S. Here’s a photo of my puppy Reilly, because he’s just too cute.

It was all down to this fellow who woke Ashley up and gave her a quiet moment to think of the opening lines for our first book. Pictured is Reilly, Ashley's golden retriever puppy.