Imagine this with me: you get up bright and early, excited to start writing. You know that a story, a very important, life-changing tale, is brewing, bubbling, burning inside you. You sit at your desk, a cup of steaming, fragrant coffee beside you, your fingers poised over the keyboard, rearing to go.
And ten minutes later, you’re staring at… a blank page.
The minutes crawl by, the clock annoying you with its incessant tick-tick-tick, while your fingers go tap-tap-tap beside the keyboard, with nary a word or phrase making its way to the screen.
This is one of the most frustrating times for a writer. Enter: the first line generator.
What Is a First Line Generator?
A first line generator is a tool that randomly generates an opening line for you. Some generators just spew out any random line, which you can use to kick off your writing. Others allow you to enter a topic or keyword of your choice, making it easier to match with what you already plan to write.
First Line Generator Tools To Try
Here are some first line generator tools you can try:
1. Opening Line Generator
This first line generator opens right to a list of 10 random opening line ideas.
If you can’t find one that sparks anything in your mind, you can easily scroll down to where it asks if you would like to “Generate Some More.”
2. Random First Line Prompts
WritingExercises.Co.UK brings you this random prompt generator, which offers a different opening line whenever you click “Generate a First Line.”
3. Pen to Print First Line Generator
This website challenges you with random first lines as you request them.
4. Writer’s First Line Generator
This tool boasts “compelling first sentences,” based on an analysis of opening lines in classic masterpieces. Unfortunately, some of the output in this tool can sound a little disconnected.
5. Public Trello Board
This bulletin board compiles writing prompts generated by actual writers. Note that some of the prompts can be a little angsty, but at least they’re written by humans!
Opening line prompts you can use right away
Alternatively, you may want to check out these first lines we’ve compiled for you:
- She was down in the cellar when the storm hit.
- Before she knew what was happening, her foot had slipped off the roof.
- He whistled for Oni, expecting her to come running up the path like she usually did. But no eager, tail-wagging beagle came.
- She rummaged in the fridge and took out the pint of ice cream.
- The car screeched to a stop and a screaming lady came barging out the passenger door.
- The children stepped tentatively into what seemed to be an abandoned cove.
- My name is Naomi, but call me Mara.
- The bookstore proudly displayed that month’s bestseller, not knowing it was written by AI.
- The clock struck midnight, and the sound of sleigh bells could be heard up on the chimney.
- The strange music wafted in through the apartment window. Who could be playing the piano at such an ungodly hour?
- “What happened? I only clicked ‘OK’! Where did all my work go?”
- The message popped up while she was frantically typing the first few pages of her term paper. “We’re through.”
- The icy-blue liquid in the test tube caught his eye. Is this…?
- Grasshopper weather. That’s what Pop said the night he came home from town.
- “If you don’t stop your crying right this minute, I’m going to give you something to cry about!”
- The clock says 7, but it can’t be just 7 o’clock! It must’ve stopped hours ago.
- The roar of the plane overhead sent the toddler dashing under the nearest table.
- The bookshop attendant was reaching up the top shelf when it happened.
- Gray and purple mist swirled before his eyes: was he home, finally?
- Grandfather looked, for the last time, at the home he had built with his own hands fifty years ago.
Should You Use a First Line Generator?
Some reasons why you may benefit from using a first line generator are:
You can get more writing practice.
One way to get better at writing is actually to write regularly. In the book Peak, authors Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool describe purposeful practice as the most important factor in improving a skill.
When you use writing prompts, you are training yourself to be able to write about pretty much any topic. This will help prepare you for scenes you’ll need to write later in your book or novel.
The first line can help set the tone for your writing.
If you’re stuck on what kind of tone or voice to write in, using a first line generator can give you a first line that already sets its own tone. For example, if you are impartial about which genre to write in, and the first line given you has some spooky undertones, you can simply adapt that voice and start writing away.
Kiss writer’s block goodbye.
One of the most common reasons writers give for not being able to write is getting stuck with writer’s block from the first sentence. With a first line generator, you can kiss that excuse goodbye: you already have a first line, now all you have to do is write the second, then the third, and so on.
Disadvantages of Using an Opening Line Generator
However, an automated first line generator also has the following disadvantages:
The generator doesn’t know what you want to write about.
The random nature of a first line generator means that it will just give you first lines with no thought to your preferred topic or genre. While this could be an advantage in terms of training you to write well on any subject, it may defeat your goals for an actual story that you’re passionate about.
The sentences may have a robotic tone or feel.
Because first line generators are automated tools, sometimes, the sentences may sometimes come across as sounding robotic. Of course, you still have the choice as to which lines to use, and you can still opt for those that at least feel authentic.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to use the exact line that the generator produces to start your story. Rather, you can treat the line as a kind of template and adapt it to meet your story’s needs.
For example, if a generator gives you the line “People trust me with their valuables; they really shouldn’t,” you can copy the sentence structure and use it as inspiration for a new line, like, “People often underestimate my resourcefulness; they really shouldn’t.”
It may not be the best time to pick an opening line.
Now, if you are seriously considering writing a short story or a novel, you might prefer to dabble with the best first line to hook your readers after you finish the story.
After all, many authors actually leave the opening line for last, seeing how important it is to new readers. If you do use a first line generator, at least consider going back and revising the first scene after you complete your tale.
Using a First Line Generator
Since these first line generators are free, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying them out. However, just make sure you don’t limit yourself, especially if the prompt turns out robotic. You can always pick and choose the ones that really stand out to you.
If you don’t want to be too dependent on machines, you can opt to write down your own opening line prompts: all you need is a notebook and pen, and anytime you get an idea or a thought that may evolve into a story, write it down in your notebook. Anytime you get writer’s block, you can consult this little list of story starters and find yourself writing in a jiffy!
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:
- 40 Short Story Prompts You Can Write in a Day
- Writing Prompts for Kids: Questions to Inspire Young Writers
- How to Start a Story: 6 Creative Ways to Get Up and Writing
- 72 Journal Prompts to Boost Your Creative Writing Skills
Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.