Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Mar 2020’s Great Opening Lines)

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

“Arterial blood has sprayed onto the walls; the tannoy is breaking into a staccato and the student nurse, Linda, recalls a childhood wish for invisibility” – Terry Melia’s Tales from the Greenhills

“…has sprayed…”, “…is breaking…”, and “…recalls…” – I’ve written elsewhere that I need to know Melia sweated every word choice. If the word choice above was automatic and obvious, I’m giving up writing. The first sentence of Tales from the Greenhills is present tense, direct address, and action. You are there in the center of it and the action is intense. You see the arterial blood dripping down the walls. The tannoy (British for “loudspeaker”) is making terse, abrupt statements – probably operational rather than informative based on the “arterial blood” line – and we’re given a point-of-view character who is 1) a student – she’s young, 2) a nurse – she should know what she’s doing but from (1) we know she’s in over her head, 3) recalling a childhood – she’s looking for peace, comfort, refuge, safety, 4) invisibility – she wants to get away, hide, be free of what’s happening.

And in twenty-five words.

And it keeps getting better.

Tales from the Greenhills is a must read for authors and writer-wannabes. It is a textbook of style, voice, language, dialogue, setting, …

Sorry, if I’m gushing. It’s that good.

Do you have any great opening lines you’d like to share?
I’d love to know them. There’s a catch, though. You have to explain in context why a line is great. Saying a line is great because it comes from some great literature doesn’t cut it. Quoting from archaic and/or little known works doesn’t cut it.

Feel free to quote from archaic and/or little know works, just make sure you give reasons why something is great. I stated the Great Opening Lines criteria back in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 2 -What Makes a Great Opening Line?).

So by all means, make the claim. Just make sure you provide the proof according to the guidelines given. If not, your comment won’t get published.

The Inheritors Chapter 10 – Resa ValJean, 211 Cavalos Era

Read The Inheritors Chapter 9 – Kyagtshagg, 2035AD

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of this chapter to read offline

The Inheritors Chapter 10 – Resa ValJean, 211 Cavalos Era

Resa stretched, anguine like, as the Librarian guided her from the Neuroscaphe. “There were some fluctuations in the Labyrinth today, Bertrand. ”

“One of your compatriot Thinkers achieved something unexpected.”

She waited but the Librarian offered no more. “Bertrand, you’ll have to learn to give more information if you want to talk to me.”

The Librarian’s eyes remained dark.

“Bertrand? ” She slowly moved her hand in front of his face. He didn’t track it. Instead he kept his dark, silent eyes on hers. “What’s wrong, Bertrand?

“A Librarian died.”

“Oh, Bertrand, I’m so sorry. Was it someone I know?”

“No, a brother another named ‘Roland’.”

“Still, I’m sorry. Was it a painful death?”

“For whom?”

But she had already turned away and her clothes insulated her from the heat of his words.

They continued through the BookShelves. Resa’s skirt swung methodically as she walked, her long, pale legs taking small steps so as not to tax the little Librarian. “I’d like to go outside today, Bertrand. Would it be possible to see the sun today?”

“The sun can not be seen near the purification plants.”

“Oh. The clouds. Of course. Can we go further out then?”


An hour later they walked in the dark towards the terminus of a forgotten service tunnel. Small things scurried underfoot and Resa heard water dripping along the way. The Librarian held her hand and guided her in the dark. “Bertrand, could you give me some light? Only for a little while. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. I want to see where I am.”

The Librarian’s eyes grew hot, passing from dull red into orange, the heat he generated searing the flesh around his eyes. She felt him screaming, “If I had a mother she would have called me ‘Sonny’.”

The light from his eyes faded and he shook.

“Thank you, Bertrand. That was very kind. ” She wrapped some of her skirt around the shaking librarian.

His eyes glowed again and she kissed his forehead between them. “No, no, no. Silence. Silence now. Don’t speak. Just listen.”

She held the Librarian close and rested his head against her chest, its eyes running with plasma as they blistered and healed themselves. Slowly it put its arms around her neck and allowed itself to hang there. She rocked back and forth as if comforting a tired child. “There are thousands of creatures down here in this tunnel, Bertrand. Far more numerous and varied than any on the surface, I think. But they live in the dark. Perhaps they’ve lived in the dark for so long they’ve grown accustomed to it. I don’t know. But I do know they’ve grown to fear the light.

“Now think, Bertrand, although I know you’ll say thinking is not the basis of your kind, but think with me for a moment anyway.

“You, who were not designed to think, spoke a joke that gave light in this darkness. Some creatures feared it and ran away. Others were curious and came close. Those that came close, you’ve given wisdom to. Those who ran away ran back to superstitions they already had.”

He lifted his eyes to her face and whispered softly, “A wise thought.”

She pulled his head back down to her chest and rubbed the muscular neck. “Yes. I think so. It’s from the man I named you after, Bertrand Russell: ‘Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.’ Now be quiet. Give yourself time to heal.”

She wasn’t sure how long they stayed thus, only that she’d nodded off and was woken by something making its way up her arm. She caught it in her hand and felt its softly furred surface. Tiny scampering feet forced their way through her hand until a tiny, big-eared head poked free. A long, murine tail curled around her fingers. “Cheep.”

“M. Souris? Mr. Mouse? Is that you?”


The big-eared head burrowed into her palm and she felt its nose and whiskers sniffle for crumbs in the hollows of her hand.

“Would you like a crust of bread? A bit of cracker?”


She opened the hand that held the mouse and quickly clapped it to her other. She felt the mouse crack and crunch between them as it shrieked its final “cheep”.

“Eat that, little thing. No one touches Resa Valjean unless she lets them.”

The Librarian breathed deeply, as if waking, and her voice grew soft again. “Oh, my, Bertrand. How long have we been away? You won’t get in any trouble, will you?”

“No. ” He paused, his eyes silent for a moment, then a dull glow, a whisper, “Resa, how do you repair?”

“Repair? I’m not sure what you mean.”

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The Gathering Hordes (of Raccoons)

Humans are in a pandemic as I write this.

Covid-19. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

Yet the Old Ones still gather daily and nightly in our yard.

I’ve often fretted about making offerings to The Old Ones. I make sure I offer enough to supplement, not enough to fulfill. I want them to find food their normal ways and not grow dependent. I worry what might happen to them once I pass.

Who will care for them?

I forget that they are Old Ones. They have survived human pestilence save humans being pestilence towards them.

I know certain diseases have ravaged wildlife.

I wonder if they know a disease is affecting Two-Legged life, or do they not care. Do they say amongst themselves, “They are Two-Legs. We were here before them, we will be here after them.”

I wonder how long the current pandemic will last. Or will it decimate Two-Legged life? Were the survivalists correct all along? If you’ve ever read Earth Abides or The Stand, you know the next chapter of humanity may not be all that pleasant.

And still, the Old Ones gather.

I’m sure they will after we’re gone.

The question is, how will they remember us.

So I’ll ask; how do you want to be remembered? Enter a comment. I’d like to know.



Noun: blurb
1. A promotional statement (as found on the dust jackets of books

I’m studying blurbs.

You know that stuff you find written on the backcover and/or dust jacket of most books? That’s the blurb. It’s underneath the endorsements (if there are any) and the grabber-headline.

My study revealed that opinions differ (Duh!). Some times the terms used for the same things differ. There’s no hard and fast rules, only opinions.

Opinions are called soft data, meaning they’re subjective and hard to pin down into something actionable. However, get enough soft data and you can do some statistical analysis and turn it into hard data, meaning objective and pin downable.

Provided you remember your original source is soft data and therefore your valid results could be valid results of invalid information. Two-thousand people claiming something is valid doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid. It could mean two-thousand people are incorrect.

The Chinese General Solicitation
I study soft data using The Chinese General Solicitation. I learned the Solicitation a long time ago, it’s served me well ever since in any number of situations:

  1. Ask the same question to lots of different people.
  2. Get their answer,
  3. then ask lots of questions to get an explanation for their answer.

Do that until you run out of time, money, or both (and recognize that the data won’t harden up quickly. You generally need lots of people taking part), then make a list divided as follows:

  1. Top of the list – find out what everybody agrees to.
  2. Second part of the list – find out what most people agree to.
  3. Bottom of the list – pay attention to what you agree with (not because it’s least worthy but because it’s your gut-check station).

1. What does everybody agree to?

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I’m Thriving Globally (thanks to Roshan Bhondekar)!

Brother Roshan Bhondekar, an internationally recognized activist, author (of Love – The Key to Optimism: Path Towards Happiness), and award-winning film maker asked if he could write a piece about me. The result is His Vision Made Him Unique.

When he reached out to me I said sure. Why not?

To be honest, I thought it might be a simple blurb (he’s busy with his many projects). Instead I learn he’s done an amazing job connecting the dots of my life into an interesting story.

I mean, I found it interesting. And I think I’m boring and dull. Sometime we forget what we’ve done in our lives.

And I’m still boring and dull.

Anyway, big thanks to Roshan Bhondekar for writing His Vision Made Him Unique