There is something so tantalizing about catching a glimmer of a book from peeking at its first line. This is how I usually decide what to read in a bookstore or a library. My first influence is, of course, the title on the spine. But once the book is in my hands I turn immediately to the first page. I don’t read the flap copy—I don’t want to know another person’s interpretation of what the book is “about” before I’ve had my own taste of the actual writing. Also, the flap copy can ruin a story for me by telling too much. So I try to avoid it. I start with the first sentence. If it sings, if it pulls me in and draws me to read the whole page, I’m caught. If it falls flat, I slip it back on the shelf and search for another.
No pressure about first lines or anything… but this may be why I agonize over my openings. I love the way my first attempt at a novel opens—it took me years to get there. I keep wanting to return to it if only to make use of those first few lines. Someday, somewhere, I’ll find the exact right place to put them.