Great Opening Lines – and Why! (May 2022’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.

It’s been another eight months since I posted some great opening lines. I still read what some consider an amazing number of books each month, each cover to cover. It’s simply harder and harder to find great opening lines.

But this month I read James Tiptree, Jr.’s The Milk of Paradise in the Harlan Ellison edited “Again, Dangerous Visions” and wow what a find it is.

Note that I do not recommend the book, only this and a few other stories in it (see my Goodreads review for more on this).

“She was flowing hot and naked and she straddled his belly in the cuddlecube and fed him her hard little tits.”James Tiptree, Jr.’s The Milk of Paradise
Scene, tone, atmosphere, mood, setting, and character in twenty-one words.


I must admit my bias here; I’ve enjoyed, been amazed by, and learned from every Tiptree story I’ve read.

She was flowing… – Strong verb tied to primary (not main) character in the first three words. Both visual and tactile/kenisthetic imagery right out of the gate.

…hot… – more visual and tactile information.

…and naked… – ditto.

…and she straddled his belly… – Face it. At this point, Tiptree is unrelenting. Note also the strong, action verb and the alliteration to drive the reader forward.

…in the cuddlecube… – Tiptree introduces the larger setting frame and calls us into the mythic in three words while also continuing the visual, tactile onslaught.

…and fed him her hard little tits. – Action verbs again, visual/tactile again.

Don’t want to give you a spoiler, but you neeed to know the next sentence of the full two-sentence opening paragraph hits you in the gut with everything that’s in the first.

It’s also worth noting Tiptree’s “…and…and…and…” construction. It keeps the reader moving forward from one sensory element to the next even though the each element is powerful in itself. It’s like being in the boxing ring with a master.

Again, I can’t recommend the entire “Again, Dangerous Visions” anthology and The Milk of Paradise is a standout on so many levels. It’s truly one of those stories in which the reader either accepts Tiptree’s vision within the first few lines or shouldn’t bother to read it at all.

Or anything else.

Ever again.

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.