Some say the first page of a novel is the most important and then there are others who say it is the first line. If you look back at the first line of what are considered literary classics you will find many great one liners and many not so great ones.
Literary One Liners
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How well do you think you know classic literature? Test your knowledge by guessing the titles to the opening lines from 10 classic novels. It is not as easy as you think it might be. When you are done you will be able to review the answers as well as learn more about the book or author.
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Question 1 of 10
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.Correct
This memorable opening line was written by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice which was first published in 1813. If you want to learn more about Jane Austen you can visit the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Question 2 of 10
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.Correct
Question 3 of 10
Well, Prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family.
Question 4 of 10
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…
Question 5 of 10
I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.Correct
Question 6 of 10
The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.
Question 7 of 10
Brother to a Prince and fellow to a beggar if he be found worthy.
Question 8 of 10
“Please, sir, is this Plumfield?” asked a ragged boy of the man who opened the great gate at which the omnibus left him.Correct
Question 9 of 10
“So of course”, wrote Betty Flanders, pressing her heels rather deeper in the sand, there was nothing for it but to leave.
Question 10 of 10
Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.Correct
As writers I think it is important to review the works of authors past and present if we want to improve our own writing. Now that you have finished the literary one liners quiz, take ten random books off your book shelf and read only the first line of each book. Are they winning lines? Now take a look at your latest project’s first line? Is the best first line you can create or can you do better?
Does a great first line guarantee a great novel? Not always. But if you take that much time crafting your first line, imagine what you can accomplish with those that follow.
*image credit Poppet with a Camera via flickr