First Lines of Stories that Inspire

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

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Reading is magic!

I’m an avid reader, but I’m also picky. Confession time here . . . If a story doesn’t grab me in the first line, I’m reluctant to read further. Out of respect for the writer, I might continue for a paragraph. Normally, I’m done and ready to move on to the next book.

Over the years, certain books have called out to me, those whose first lines drew me into a story world where time and place captivated my spirit. The following are what came to mind as I wrote this blog. No particular order, just fond memories.

A tale of two cities_A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
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 going 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.
This first sentence breaks every rule I ever learned about writing. It’s the richness, the contrasts, the fate of mankind that draws me into Dickens’ story.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo.
Oh, the many times I’ve read this story. I’ll laugh and cry with the antics of four sisters who possessed little but understood the area during the hard times of the Civil War.

The First Hostage by Joel Rosenbergthe first hostage_
“The President of the United States . . . is missing.”
Joel Rosenberg has never disappointed me in creating a first line that immediately drew me into his stories. No matter what I’m doing, when his latest book is released, I’m into the world he’s expertly created for me.

Velveteen rabbit_The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco
Here was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.
How very satisfying to consider myself so very loved that I’m ragged (wrinkled) and old – but so very loved.

Memory Man by David Baldacci
Amos Decker would forever remember all three of their violent deaths in the most paralyzing shade of blue.
Baldacci thrills me with his suspense novels. The depth of character and the rise of plot from deep-rooted needs and flaws always provide a dynamic read.

The Stranger by Harlan Cobenthe stranger_
The stranger didn’t shatter Adam’s world all at once.
Cohen knows how to masterfully begin and carry through a suspenseful story. One of my favorite writers.

The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds
A library could be a dangerous place.
The moment I read this first line, I was captivated by the story. The twists and turns were so unpredictable.

What first lines of books stand out in your mind?

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DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable DiAnn Mills author photocharacters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

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