14 of Shakespeare’s most captivating openers

Having trouble writing compelling lead sentences? Perhaps the Bard can serve up some inspiration.

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Opening lines can torment writers.

The lead sentence can make or break what we’ve written. They are often the deciding factor in whether readers keep reading.

To find inspiration for my own writing projects, I often study the first lines of great literary works. Recently, I’ve been interested in the first lines of Shakespeare’s plays. Some of his most famous works open simply (“Who’s there?” in “Hamlet”), while others immediately draw readers in with a mystery.

Here are a few of my favorites:

“When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?” -“Macbeth”

“In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.” -“The Merchant of Venice”

“If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die. -“Twelfth Night”

“Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York;” -“Richard III”

“Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,” -“Romeo and Juliet”

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