It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times: 19 Great Ways to Start a Novel

Funny, frightening, and bizarre. Happy national novel writing month!

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Every November, hundreds of thousands of people set out to write a 50,000 word novel in only 30 days. We’re tired just thinking about it.

So to kick off NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated), we asked TIME readers to tweet us what first line they would use to get the ball rolling. The results ranged from hilarious to poignant to, well, bizarre. Published authors even got in on the fun … telling 140 character tales of cannibalism, no less.

Here are some of our favorites:

Good luck writing the next hundreds of thousands of characters!