Grab their attention first in opening statement – famous first lines

We know that in this world of headline reporting people draw instant impressions. Human resource people report they spend on average 15 seconds per resume so the opening lines had better be an attention getter. In the first few seconds of every encounter we are instantly evaluated. We are observed from head to toe by demeanor, body language and grooming. Within three seconds impressions are formed about us. When it involves advertising it is the headline that determines whether you keep reading or not. Research shows that four out of five people decide whether they will continue reading based upon the headline of the ad. The same rules apply in the court room. From the moment you are first seen these rules apply. So, when it comes to opening statement the opening is the most critical part of the process. You have the jury’s undivided attention for only a minute or two and what you say then determines how carefully they pay attention from then on. When Carl Bettinger of New Mexico spoke at the WSTLA seminar in Seattle Friday he talked about this and theneed to capture attention early in opening statement. Hegave some examples of first lines in literature. I thought it would be interesting to see what has been used as opening lines in literature. I found that by typing in Google "famous opening lines" a whole laundry list of sources was available. Here is my selection of what I consider attention grabbing and unique opening lines.

"There was a land of cavaliers and cotton fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, gallantry took its last bow…Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a civilization gone with the wind." Gone with the wind

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities<(1859)

Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900)

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Harper Lee

Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: Your mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Deep sympathy. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday.The Stranger, The Outsider (1942; trans. Stuart Gilbert), Albert Camus

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.The Tale of Peter Rabbit(1902), Beatrix Potter

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997), J.K. Rowling

Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he stayed up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901-1902), Arthur Conan Doyle

It is this day three hundred and forty-eight years six months and nineteen days that the good people of Paris were awakened by a grand pealing from all the bells in the three districts of the Cite, the Universite, and the Ville.- Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. George Orwell, 1984

Who’s there?- William Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark

The year 1866 was signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.- Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

"I was not sorry when my brother died." by Tsitsi Dangarembga

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink." I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith:

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