Thirty Days of First Lines: Day 14

Perhaps the simplest way to open is to have the reader meet the character, set the scene, and start the action:

Sister_Carrie

“When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister’s address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money.”

Theodore Dreiser,  Sister Carrie.

Another approach is to deploy a little cheerful bombast. Here’s an example from the opening of “In Defense of Woman” essays by Dreiser’s sometime friend, H.L. Mencken, a master of rhetorical flourish:

mencken“As a professional critic of life and letters, my principal business in the world is that of manufacturing platitudes for tomorrow, which is to say, ideas so novel that they will be instantly rejected as insane and outrageous by all right thinking men, and so apposite and sound that they will eventually conquer that instinctive opposition, and force themselves into the traditional wisdom of the race.”

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