Infographic: 34 Compelling First Lines of Famous Novels

It was a dark and stormy night …

The first sentence of a novel is often the only chance an author has to make the first impression, and the very best books will keep the reader hooked from the first line to the very last line.

In the following infographic you’ll find the first line from 34 novels, including Fahrenheit 451, To Serve Man, The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye.



Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Gbm21 March, 2016

    I have always like “The rat screamed.” from “The Forge” by S.M. Stirling and David Drake.

  2. […] Infographic: Compelling First Lines of Famous Novels […]

  3. Ravenwood Zee14 April, 2016

    This is a great Info graphic. Can you tell me where I can buy the poster. Very inspirational for my teenage son.

    Also one of my favorites is from Sula by Toni Morrison–“In that place, where they tore the nightshade and blackberry patches from their rooks to make room for the Medallion City Golf Course, there was once a neighborhood.”

  4. Johnnie15 April, 2016

    It was a dark and stormy night. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle.

    1. Nate Hoffelder15 April, 2016

      “Step away from the zebra, and put down the cucumber!” the cop shouted at me. – my unfinished manuscript

      1. fjtorres15 April, 2016

        So get cracking and finish it!

  5. SJ Drummond22 July, 2016

    Am a new librarian & would love to get my hands on a poster version of this–any thoughts on how?

  6. Eric27 May, 2020

    “The man in black fled across the dessert, and the gunslinger followed.” The Dark Tower – The Gunslinger. Stephen King

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