An opening line sets the tone and mood of any piece of writing. Today’s post will inspire you to consider interesting and effective ways to open a piece of writing. Read the opening passages below, then see if you can match them to their well-known works.

Opening passages from famous works

Here are some opening passages from fifteen well-known works. Read them first, then see the list of works below. See if you can match each opening line here to its famous work.

  1. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
  2. “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”
  3. “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”
  4. “This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”
  5. “You better not never tell nobody but God.”
  6. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these passages must show.”
  7. “Mother died today.”
  8. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”
  9. “They shoot the white girl first.”
  10. “All this happened, more or less.”
  11. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
  12. “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…”
  13. “It was love at first sight.”
  14. “Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”
  15. “Where’s Papa going with that ax?”

List of famous works

  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • Paradise by Toni Morrison
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Answers to this quiz will be included in tomorrow’s post. Until then, it might be helpful to reflect on what makes each of the above passages so memorable and effective, especially if you’re working on your own writing today.