Yesterday at Barnes & Noble I picked up maybe eight YA books and just read the opening page or so. It was a learning experience because, for all the books I've read, I don't know if I could list off exactly how they started on more than a handful of them. I'm sure the openings sucked me in, and that's what got me to read the whole book, but my own idea of what an opening should be was somewhat vague.
It was quite instructive. The ones that didn't grab me in the first couple of paragraph I put back immediately. After all, I want to read writing that speaks to me. Ideally, what I learn from these openings will help me speak to other people in a way that hooks them in the navel and pulls.
Here are a handful of some great opening lines (that I didn't read last night):
"I dreamed I went to Manderly again." -Rebecca
"Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed." -The Magicians
"Therewas a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. " - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possessionof a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." - Pride and Prejudice
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
So I've been chewing on my first chapter for a week or so. Maybe I will come across that really excellent, all-telling/all-concealing line for my opening. Maybe not. Either way, looking at openings has definitely been helpful. After all, other than the query letter, it's the first thing the agent reads. And, should the powers that be allow, the first thing that potential readers will look at.