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All the Opening Sentences from Stephen King Books, Ranked

Updated March 11, 2019 47.9k votes 6.6k voters 99.0k views45 items

The first lines in Stephen King books set the stage for the stories that follow. Over his long career, King has written opening sentences that are funny, informative, scary, and downright odd. But which one is the best?

Is it the simple statement about the gunslinger following the man in black through the desert in The Gunslinger, the novel that begins his epic eight-novel fantasy cycle? Is it the more in-depth breakdown of the Boston Globe reporter's surroundings in The Colorado Kid? Is it the random gurgles and moans that kick off Misery? Or is it something else entirely?

There's certainly not a shortage to chose from. Check out the list below to view every first sentence from King's novels and vote up your favorite ones! 

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  • 26
    553
    205

    "Daddy, I'm tired," the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully.

    Firestarter
  • 27
    548
    205

    "How long will the magic stay?"

    The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah 
  • 28
    510
    188

    On a very hot day in August of 1994, my wife told me she was going down to the Derry Rite Aid to pick up a refill on her sinus medicine prescription - this is stuff you can buy over the counter these days, I believe.

    Bag of Bones
  • 29
    524
    195

    Jessie could hear the back door banging lightly, randomly, in the October breeze blowing around the house.

    Gerald's Game
  • 30
    494
    187

    For want of a nail the kingdom was lost - that's how the catechism goes when you boil it down.

    The Tommyknockers
  • 31
    411
    146

    To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon.

    Lisey's Story
  • 32
    442
    164

    "Wake up, genius."

    Finders Keepers
  • 33
    469
    181

    Right here and now, as an old friend used to say, we are in the fluid present, where clear-sightedness never guarantees perfect vision.

    Black House
  • 34
    557
    227

    "Sally."

    The Stand
  • 35
    530
    214

    The gunslinger came awake from a confused dream which seemed to consist of a single image: that of the Sailor in the Tarot deck from which the man in black had dealt (or purported to deal) the gunslinger's own moaning future.

    The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three
  • 36
    391
    143

    In the northwestern part of Maine - in the area known as the Lakes Direct - the small town of Sharbot curves like a crescent around a beautiful body of water called Dark Score Lake.

    Dolores Claiborne
  • 37
    400
    158

    "Oh! Oh, Jesus! Gross!"

    Desperation 
  • 38
    358
    138

    Curt Wilcox's boy came around the barracks a lot the year after his father died, I mean a lot, but nobody ever told him get out of the way or asked him what in hail he was doing there again.

    From a Buick 8
  • 39
    442
    187

    It was her third time with live ammunition...and her first time on the draw from the holster Roland had rigged for her.

    The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands
  • 40
    357
    146

    Augie Odenkirk had a 1997 Datsun that still ran well in spite of high mileage, but gas was expensive, especially for a man with no job, and City Center was on the far side of town, so he decided to take the last bus of the night.

    Mr. Mercedes
  • 41
    407
    179

    Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long ears and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes.

    The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla
  • 42
    318
    143

    I had a car, but on most days in that fall of 1973 I walked to Joyland from Mrs. Shoplaw's Beachside Accommodations in the town of Heaven's Bay.

    Joyland
  • 43
    331
    186

    My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business.

    Duma Key
  • 44
    246
    181

    After deciding he would get nothing of interest from the two old men who comprised the entire staff of The Weekly Islander, the feature writer from the Boston Globe took a look at his watch, remarked that he could just make the one-thirty ferry back to the mainland if he hurried, thanked them for their time, dropped some money on the tablecloth, weighted it down with the salt shaker so the stiffish onshore breeze wouldn't blow it away, and hurried down the stone steps from The Grey Gull's patio dining area toward Bay Street and the little town below.

    The Colorado Kid
  • 45
    222
    245

    Fifth Business.

    Revival