NaNoWriMo Inspiration: 10 First Lines from Recent Bestsellers

Editor’s Note: The following list first appeared in the January 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest. Subscribe today to experience WD all year long.


So you’re taking on NaNoWriMo. The first day of NaNo is often the most optimistic—you have your idea, and you’re excited to take on a new challenge. If you’re an industrious and forward-thinking writer, you may have even plotted out an outline or written down some notes.

If you’re writing a novel that you aspire to publish, now’s the time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in earnest and dig in. But where do you start? At the beginning, of course. Here, to inspire your first day of cranking out 50,000 words in 30 days (that’s 1,667 words a day), we’ve compiled some intriguing first lines from novels released in the past two years.

If you got started on a novel for NaNoWriMo today, share your first line in the comments.

Quotes compiled by Jessica Strawser, images by Jess Zafarris

1. The Promise by Robert Crais


2. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave


[How a Month of NaNoWriMo Can Lead to a Lifetime of Better Writing]


3. Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams


4. The English Spy by Daniel Silva


5. The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand


6. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult


7. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead


8. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


9. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


10. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld


Learn more in the online course How to Craft a Book that Will Sell (and Launch Your Writing Career).

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2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Inspiration: 10 First Lines from Recent Bestsellers

  1. Brett Minor

    “Did I tell you I knew your father?”

    My story is about a man who has returned to his hometown after flunking out of college. He comes from a small town and his father who died years ago is a local hero. He constantly feels the pressure to live up to the name of his father.

    It’s a zombie/comedy, but the references to his father will be a recurring theme throughout the book.

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