Bridget McNulty gives the starting of Alice Monro’s story , Train, as an example of a great opening line for a short story; “This is a slow train anyway, and it has slowed some more for the curve.”
She says an intriguing opening sentence that leaves questions is a winner. Of Monro’s opener, she comments, “Immediately we want to know why it is significant that the train is slow. That word ‘anyway’ is perplexing – it emerges in subsequent sentences that it is a rationalization. The focal character, Jackson, is contemplating jumping from the slow train in question.”
Bridget gives this as one of 7 tips for writing a great short story in a blog post on Now Novel.
While you’re here, it’s worth noting that Monro is one of the most renowned short story greats of all time so there is a lot more to learn from her.
The Canadian short story writer won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. According to Wikipedia, her work has been described as revolutionizing the architecture of short stories, especially in its tendency to move forward and backward in time. Her stories have been said to “embed more than announce, reveal more than parade.”