There were some great examples I read in the chapters submitted for the New Voices competition and I've been back through many of my favourite books, just focusing on that first sentence. But none of them stand up to the opening lines entered in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest, where entrants are encouraged to write the worst opening line of a fictional novel. You can read the results of this year's competition here but I thought I would include my personal fav - just to give you a laugh (or maybe not if your humour isn't a little twisted like mine)!
Winner: Purple Prose
The dark, drafty old house was lopsided and decrepit, leaning in on itself, the way an aging possum carrying a very heavy, overcooked drumstick in his mouth might list to one side if he were also favoring a torn Achilles tendon, assuming possums have them.
Scott Davis Jones
Valley Village, CA
There are certainly more that got me giggling. I suppose they're a lesson in how NOT to write a great opening line. The most depressing thing is that you have to be a really good writer to write something so awesomely bad. Bad writers just write crap - not clever crap but the kind that make you wonder if the writer has the kind of friends who think it's funny to say things like: "Are you kidding me Hershel, that's got to be the best damn thing I've ever read! Of course you should enter the competition" while trying not to laugh or maybe......just no friends at all.