My first book, Unbalanced Accounts, opened with so much style that the publisher, Little, Brown, put the first paragraph on the back cover, and respected critic John Leonard quoted the first sentence in his New York Times review:
In March a damp wind blows in Trenton, and it smells of cats.
I've been trying to live up to that first sentence ever since, and failing, although the eight or ten books that followed Unbalanced Accounts were all quite entertaining once you got past their rather ordinary first sentences. A great first paragraph is not an easy thing to write.
Now, however, I have an opening paragraph that pleases me immoderately. I feel that I must share it with you. It's from the young adult novel I'm working on, called Broken Sister, a sort of psychological thriller. I'm kind of foggy about what young adults like, but I like this one, and if the young adults don't like it they can write their own books. Exactly half finished, the new book opens like this:
Carina Nebula crossed her ankles, placed her hands on her thighs, lifted her rib cage, and focused on her breath. In, out. Random emotions passed across her consciousness – self-hatred, wild elation, an impulse to cut herself, the desire to find her brother and choke him until his eyes popped out – but she observed these feelings as from a far distance, and one by one they passed away. She was at peace. Not even the sound of the helicopters could disturb her tranquility of mind. Not if they couldn't see her from the air.
What's your favorite opening paragraph? It's okay to include one you wrote yourself.