Well now. I've had a post in the works for quite some time about the vast amount of so-so bookage out there and the difficulty of finding something that will capture Ignatz's imagination when there is so much out there that is just not. that. good. And occasionally I find a really good author and I go visit her website hoping she will lead me to other really good authors and she's all "I really love the Magic Treehouse books" or whatever. Sigh. No. Because we need and deserve books that are all that, and those books are only half that.
But anyway, this post I've been working and working on still doesn't say what I want it to say in less than a kajillion words and I don't want to make y'all read for hours and hours. Upshot = a good book has style and substance. A good premise is essential, okay, but a writer also needs to love language, needs to dive into it like taking the Nestea Plunge, roll around in it, and cough up words you would otherwise never have learned.
So here, via slacktivist, is Litline's 100 Best First Lines from Novels, and you may not agree with them all (I don't), but if you read through them you can get a sense that sentences have balance, and the right word makes all the difference, and a good idea by itself is not enough to carry a book. The best writers know this. Well, lots of people know this. Very few know how to do it, though, which is too bad.
Incidentally, great writing isn't limited to Great Works of Literature. From my 5 Guilty Pleasures meme awhile ago, some of the authors I mentioned in the bit about genre fiction have that gift. I'll let you know if I find any more.