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Old 09-30-2014, 04:13 PM   #1
BuckyDuckman
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Worst Opening Sentences Ever

Here's a link to the article: The American Scholar - "Ten Worst Opening Lines

Let the bickering begin!

In case the above link doesn't work for you, here's a slightly altered link:

http://theamericanscholar.org/ten-worst-opening-lines/
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Old 09-30-2014, 04:37 PM   #2
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A good link would help.
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Old 09-30-2014, 05:31 PM   #3
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The 'age range' of the pieces must surely confuse a judge of these things.
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Old 09-30-2014, 08:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JAMESBJOHNSON View Post
A good link would help.
The original link works fine for me in two different browsers, however, here's a slightly altered link:

http://theamericanscholar.org/ten-worst-opening-lines/
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Old 09-30-2014, 08:38 PM   #5
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I thought "it was a dark and stormy night..." pretty much did the job.

I liked "It began oddly."
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Old 09-30-2014, 08:44 PM   #6
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Only two opening lines ever stuck with me

"Tonight, there were demons in the hearth" They Thirst Robert Mccammon

This next one is not the beginning of the Exorcist (it had a prologue) but this is how chapter one starts

Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind en's eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed in fact, it was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all, it was difficult to judge.

Damn long line, but great

The Exorcist is an incredibly powerful read.

Too bad all its ever going to be associated with is profanity, projectile vomiting and blasphemy

Sort of like my family get togethers
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Old 09-30-2014, 09:02 PM   #7
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There are probably worse that have been forgotten.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:03 PM   #8
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"to wound the autumnal city." (Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delaney)

This ended up being a great novel, one of my favorites, and so I'm glad I stuck with it. But that first line didn't inspire confidence when I was looking at 800+ pages and wondering if it was all going to be pretentious unreadable twaddle. The next few lines didn't help:

"So howled out for the world to give him a name. The in-dark answered with wind. All you know I know: careening astronauts and bank clerks glancing at the clock before lunch; actresses cowling at light-ringed mirrors and freight elevator operators grinding a thumbful of grease on a steel handle; student riots; know that dark women in bodegas shook their heads last week because in six months prices have risen outlandishly; how coffee tastes after you've held it in your mouth, cold, a whole minute."
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovecraft68 View Post

Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind en's eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed in fact, it was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all, it was difficult to judge.

That sounds almost Lovecraftian. Mr. Johnson must have read the material.

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Old 09-30-2014, 11:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xylemandphloem View Post
"to wound the autumnal city." (Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delaney)

This ended up being a great novel, one of my favorites, and so I'm glad I stuck with it. But that first line didn't inspire confidence when I was looking at 800+ pages and wondering if it was all going to be pretentious unreadable twaddle. The next few lines didn't help:

"So howled out for the world to give him a name. The in-dark answered with wind. All you know I know: careening astronauts and bank clerks glancing at the clock before lunch; actresses cowling at light-ringed mirrors and freight elevator operators grinding a thumbful of grease on a steel handle; student riots; know that dark women in bodegas shook their heads last week because in six months prices have risen outlandishly; how coffee tastes after you've held it in your mouth, cold, a whole minute."

Talking about good and bad books.... Tonight I started reading one where:
1. The characters, so far are:
----A. Stephenson R. Donald (Stephen R. Donaldson)
----B. The McFarland family (McFarlen?) Not bad on itself but just feels odd.
----C. The neighbors are named Mr. and Mrs Smythe. Mr. Smyth works at a machine shop. (AKA ... he's an electronics SMITH. )
2. The U.S. Government hides an alien spaceship, for 40 years, but once they open it ... they tell everyone about it on a newscast BEFORE getting the technology. O.o WOW.
3. The cliche of the solo scientist that opens the alien ship but doesn't tell the guards is used on the very introduction of the book. (facepalm)
4. One character is described as 'permanently smiling' but doesn't smile -once- during the amount of pages I covered. Thus, we have an unrealistic description and then no follow up on it to attempt to make it realistic.

Maybe I am nitpicking. Perhaps the read is better and more imaginative than I can properly grasp from these initial impressions.

Montanos
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:45 PM   #11
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That sounds almost Lovecraftian. Mr. Johnson must have read the material.

This is Lovecraft :

Quote:
West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs.
My favourite HP Lovecraft story, The Colour Out of Space: it is a fantastic & chilling story. Immediately you are wondering what unknowable lurking danger has HP Lovecraft conjured?

btw his stories are out of copyright.

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Old Yesterday, 12:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuckyDuckman View Post
Here's a link to the article: The American Scholar - "Ten Worst Opening Lines

Let the bickering begin!

In case the above link doesn't work for you, here's a slightly altered link:

http://theamericanscholar.org/ten-worst-opening-lines/
Just $0.02, but I think the article would better serve conversation if it were 'The Worst Opening Paragraph' or 'The Worst Introduction' since the opening sentence alone limits context.

Some of those are bad only because the second sentence is missing.
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Old Yesterday, 12:30 AM   #13
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No LIT writers are included in the list. I cry fowl.

DHALGREN: I was feverish and confined to barracks when I read it. The book is circular; as soon as I finished, I started again, and if my fever hadn't broken, I probably would have cycled through it a few more times.

BULWER-LYTTON CONTEST: Hilarious stuff, a contest for the worst first lines of the worst stories. My fave: "There's more than one way to skin a cat," she mused, as she pinned its little paws to the dissection board.
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Old Yesterday, 01:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litmlove View Post
This is Lovecraft :


My favourite HP Lovecraft story, The Colour Out of Space: it is a fantastic & chilling story. Immediately you are wondering what unknowable lurking danger has HP Lovecraft conjured?

btw his stories are out of copyright.
The Colour Out Of Space was the one that sent me out of my bedroom to confess that I was reading under the covers with a flashlight when I should have been sleeping.

It did not help that my parents were listening to The Doors' album "Strange Days" which had just come out.

I found no comfort there.

(I hate first sentences, personally, I've never been good at them)
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Old Yesterday, 01:54 AM   #15
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No LIT writers are included in the list. I cry fowl.

DHALGREN: I was feverish and confined to barracks when I read it. The book is circular; as soon as I finished, I started again, and if my fever hadn't broken, I probably would have cycled through it a few more times.

BULWER-LYTTON CONTEST: Hilarious stuff, a contest for the worst first lines of the worst stories. My fave: "There's more than one way to skin a cat," she mused, as she pinned its little paws to the dissection board.
"There is more than one way to skin a cat," she whispered as she applied the razor to her fuzzy mound.

Works for me here at Lit.
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Old Yesterday, 05:14 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovecraft68 View Post
Only two opening lines ever stuck with me

"Tonight, there were demons in the hearth" They Thirst Robert Mccammon

This next one is not the beginning of the Exorcist (it had a prologue) but this is how chapter one starts

Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind en's eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed in fact, it was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all, it was difficult to judge.

Damn long line, but great

The Exorcist is an incredibly powerful read.

Too bad all its ever going to be associated with is profanity, projectile vomiting and blasphemy

Sort of like my family get togethers
The EXORCIST eats dog shit.
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Old Yesterday, 05:17 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuckyDuckman View Post
The original link works fine for me in two different browsers, however, here's a slightly altered link:

http://theamericanscholar.org/ten-worst-opening-lines/
Thanks, this link works for me.
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Old Yesterday, 05:49 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by litmlove View Post
This is Lovecraft :


My favourite HP Lovecraft story, The Colour Out of Space: it is a fantastic & chilling story. Immediately you are wondering what unknowable lurking danger has HP Lovecraft conjured?

btw his stories are out of copyright.
Rats in the Walls is my favorite because there is something about it that still creeps me out. Most likely the dreams of him being in that weird garden and what his family really ate

Dreams in the Witch House and Dunwich Horror are up there as well.

I am the only HPL fan I know who never really liked the Insmouth story
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Old Yesterday, 05:50 AM   #19
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The EXORCIST eats dog shit.
Then you and William Peter Blatty have a lot in common.
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Old Yesterday, 05:58 AM   #20
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Then you and William Peter Blatty have a lot in common.
You mean me, Blatty, and HP Lovecraft. Are there worse writers?
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Old Yesterday, 06:59 AM   #21
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Rats in the Walls is my favorite because there is something about it that still creeps me out. Most likely the dreams of him being in that weird garden and what his family really ate

Dreams in the Witch House and Dunwich Horror are up there as well.

I am the only HPL fan I know who never really liked the Insmouth story
I give in, I am starting a Lovecraft appreciation thread so we stop associating his stories with this thread about awful openings
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Old Yesterday, 07:06 AM   #22
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Can't agree with the Graham Greene example, but some of the others would have English teachers ranting.

Personally I prefer to concentrate on the positives. My favorite opening line has to be:

"It was the day my grandmother exploded." Iain Banks The crow road.
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Old Yesterday, 08:41 AM   #23
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I give in, I am starting a Lovecraft appreciation thread so we stop associating his stories with this thread about awful openings
He's like Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. Outta sight, outta mind.
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Old Yesterday, 10:05 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by litmlove View Post
This is Lovecraft :


My favourite HP Lovecraft story, The Colour Out of Space: it is a fantastic & chilling story. Immediately you are wondering what unknowable lurking danger has HP Lovecraft conjured?

btw his stories are out of copyright.
H.P. Lovecraft. One of my favorite authors of all time. He could get excessively wordy, but few authors could weave strands of chill, prose, and dark oppression like that gentleman.

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Old Yesterday, 10:09 PM   #25
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"There is more than one way to skin a cat," she whispered as she applied the razor to her fuzzy mound.
LOL. That line would be great for comedy erotica if properly rendered with a supporting structure.


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