Great Opening Lines – and Why! (October 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.

My last entry in this category was July 2022’s Great Opening Lines – and Why! (May 2022’s Great Opening Lines) which covered Binah Shah’s Before She Sleeps. This entry in the Great Opening Lines – And Why! posts is Laura Koerber‘s Coyote’s Road Trip.

Two customers, one staffer, and one guy at the hookup. – from Chapter 1 of Laura Koerber‘s Coyote’s Road Trip
Characterization, setting, tone, atmosphere, mood, and voice in eleven words.

A lean description which tells the reader as much about the narrator as it does what the narrator is describing. Matter of fact, no embellishment, and tired. Genius!

I should ask Ms. Koerber if it’s exhausting being this good. I need to know she pared some huge, unwieldly opening line down to this piece of brilliance.

Note that I write “from Chapter 1 of” above. Get past the prologue (which was entirely unnecessary to me and got in the way of good storytelling) and you have one heck of a fun ride with this novel.

Koerber has a note up front which is informative and also unnecessary. I wonder if it’s included to block sensitivity readers from maligning her work with their own prejudices.

In any case, start with “The Desert/Chapter 1” and read from there on. You are now reading one of the best fantasy/magic realism stories I’ve encountered in a while.

Add the second line, “I didn’t like those odds, so I strolled outside and around to the back for a long piss in the weeds,” and character, voice, setting, tone, and narrator are locked. Double Genius.

And sorry, I can’t stop there. Koerber does brilliantly something few other modern writers can do at all – character-based exposition and narration. The amount of world-building in the first chapter is astounding and so refreshingly done other writers should use this as a textbook for good writing. And all of it’s done while revealing the narrator’s character and history.

Hats off, Ms. Koerber, Hat’s off.

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.