Last week I linked to American Book Review’s list of 100 best first lines from novels. While I’m not fond of (or even familiar with) all of the books listed, they do have some excellent examples of first lines.
Then again, the first line from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Paul Clifford also made the list:
Yes, this is the same “It was a dark and stormy night” that inspired Snoopy’s many attempts at writing the great American novel. It also inspired the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which contestants try to write the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary novel.
The contest is held yearly, and the deadline is usually April 15th. If you have the stomach for it, you can read last year’s winning entries or the entire list of grand prize winners. My favorite was this one from 1986.