Once upon a time
... has always been the best way to start a story, especially when you don't know how to begin it. The hardest part of writing a story, is always the beginning. Here are some examples of how some very notable works I read began. They describe action, emotion and atmosphere, and most are short but there are some which are long winded. (All beginnings are reproduced till the first period.)
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," mumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
-- Little Women
, by Louisa May Alcott, 1868.
I want to die at a hundred years old with an American flag on my back and the star of Texas on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at 75 miles per hour.
-- It's Not About The Bike - My Journey Back To Life,
Lance Armstrong, 2000.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
-- Pride and Prejudice
, by Jane Austen, 1813.
It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a gentle sea.
-- Jonathan Livingston Seagull
, by Richard Bach, 1970.
My truth has been a long time refining.
-- Running From Safety
, Richard Bach, 1998.
The problem was the door.
-- Out Of My Mind
, Richard Bach, 1999.
We think, sometimes, there's not a dragon left.
-- The Bridge Across Forever
, Richard Bach, 1984.
All children, except one, grow up.
-- Peter Pan
, by J.M. Barie, 1911.
Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men's eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all.
-- The Exorcist
, by William Peter Blatty, 1971.
1801--I have just returned from a visit to my landlord--the solitary neighbor that I shall be troubled with.
-- Wuthering Heights
, by Emily Brontë, 1847.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
-- Jane Eyre
, by Charlotte Brontë, 1847.
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?'
-- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
, by Lewis Carroll, 1866.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all doing direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
-- A Tale of Two Cities
, by Charles Dickens, 1859.
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.
-- The Hound of the Baskervilles
, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1902.
All the beasts in Howling Forest were safe in their caves, nests, and burrows.
-- The Neverending Story
, by Michael Ende, 1979.
"The marvelous thing is that it's painless," he said.
-- The Snows of Kilimanjaro
, by Ernest Hemingway, 1927.
Maybe someday I'll have kids of my own.
-- Pay It Forward
, Catherine Ryan Hyde, 2000.
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
-- To Kill a Mockingbird
, by Harper Lee, 1960.
I am going to pack my two shirts with my other socks and my best suit in the litle blue cloth my mother used to tie round her hair when she did the house, and I am going from the Valley.
-- How Green Was My Valley
, by Richard Llewellyn, 1940.
Call me Ishmael.
-- Moby Dick
, by Herman Melville, 1851.
There is a lovely road that runs from Ixapo into the hills.
-- Cry the Beloved Country
, by Alan Paton.
Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called Stories From Nature, about the primeval forest.
-- The Little Prince
, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943.
Kino awakened in the near dark.
-- The Pearl
, by John Steinbeck, 1945.
I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of june, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.
, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886.
He sat before the mirror of the second-floor bedroom sketching his lean cheeks with their high bone ridges, the flat broad forehead, and ears to far back on the head, the dark hair curling forward in thatches, the ambercoloured eyeswide-set but heavy-lidded.
-- The Agony And The Ecstacy
, Irving Stone, 1961.
You better not never tell nobody but God.
-- The Color Purple
, by Alice Walker, 1982.
The charachteristic features of Indian culture have long been the search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.
-- The Autobiography Of A Yogi
, Paramhansa Yogananda, 1951.
much love, light and laughter,