IWSG 102: Best Lines + Twists


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Diedre KnightTonya DreckerBish Denham | Olga GodimJQ Rose


Have you ever read a line in novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?


A quick note: I’ll be busy watching ProWritingAid’s Fantasy Week Webinars from Feb 27th to March 2nd. If you’d like to check it out too, here’s the schedule page.

It’s Free!

Please excuse my slow responses this month.


Now back to the the question

The short answer is maybe a little.

First lines

I’m sticking with first lines to keep it simple. The fact is if you google best first lines in fiction, you’ll get a list. Here’s mine:

“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.” Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“It was a pleasure to burn.” –Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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

“All children, except one, grow up.” M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“I am an invisible man.” Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“The moment one learns English, complications set in.” Felipe Alfau, Chromos

“It was the day my grandmother exploded.” Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road

When I do a deep dive for inspiration—and always do when I’m searching for my first line—I remind myself that each gem has been treasured throughout history. Whether I laugh, or gasp, or pause, their creators left their mark.

And this I respect, deeply, and profoundly.

Twists On the other hand

I love them all and when I’m surprised, I cheer. I don’t feel envy, only admiration. I understand the work involved.


Because I’ve tried it myself.

Because I read a lot of mysteries and am on full alert. It takes a lot to surprise me, or scare me. I’m a hard case, I guess. So when I’ve been caught unawares by a twist, I’m delighted. I can’t help but admire the genius behind it.

I guess that was the long answer. Let me add, I’m proud to be part of such a community and happier still because I share it with you.


What is your favorite line—first or not?


26 responses to “IWSG 102: Best Lines + Twists

  1. We are on the same page. I’ve always wanted to be able to write like others, but never felt envy. It’s hard to harbor such extreme emotions for someone you don’t know personally.

  2. spunkonastick

    That last first line really catches your attention, doesn’t it?

  3. Oh, I love a good plot twist, too! 🙂

  4. I hope you enjoy the webinar. It sounds good. I feel admiration too when I read a great line or plot twist too.

  5. Hi,
    Enjoy your webinar.
    I agree. When I read a book that I consider great writing, I admire it.
    Shalom shalom

  6. I think I can’t share one of my favorite lines from Harrow the Ninth because it doesn’t make much sense out of context, but it’s a bit of a spoiler otherwise.

    Gah! I forgot about the Fantasy thing with ProWritingAid. I’m gonna have to go check it out.

  7. Wanting to write something that succeeds is always a worthwhile desire. I hope your webinar is excellent.

  8. Best lines are something I admire. Always. Unexpected twist in a plot though – not necessarily. Sometimes, they nudge the story in the direction it needs to go, and I like that. But other times, those twists suddenly turn the story I’m reading into something else, and thus break my unspoken contract with the author. If I expected a different development, such twists could turn me off the book altogether.

  9. Enjoyed your post. How wonderful that you can recall and be inspired by so many quotes! And, like you, I’m a hard case for twists. Be on the alert for hooks – that’s the key!

  10. I’m intrigued by the Chromos quote. It’s a perfect quote for a post on writing.

  11. What a gem of a list! The Peter Pan line is the best for me. I admire these first lines and hope to one day write a great one.

  12. The lines you quoted are fantastic examples. I wish I could remember 1st lines that really struck me. Except for Rebecca, I can’t remember any.

  13. The first line from Donna Tartt’s book The Secret History is my favourite to date: ‘The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.’

    I aspire to write a great first line like the examples you’ve mentioned, but I don’t envy the authors. Just makes me want to keep writing 🙂

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