The first line of my first draft was, "Look, they even moved his grave." This is from the version that had an academic researcher going on a wild cross-country goose chase with two of Boone's descendants. It wasn't great. My agent's reaction was along the lines of "I hate your book."
Onward and upward, right? By the time I got to a third-person draft, the opening line was, "They're coming. Cut the tugs." This had Daniel in the snow, about to be caught by the Shawnee for the second time, trying to get away ("tugs" is Olde-Timey for buffalo hide straps that hold a load on a horse). I had to get rid of a lot of Olde-Timey, including all the Quaker thees and thous in young Daniel's early life in Pennsylvania. They felt phoney and distracting. And the draft still wasn't great. Too distant.
But we persevere! Once I realized that I had to tackle a first-person voice for Daniel, a lot of the false stuff fell away by itself. I aimed for a voice that felt slightly removed, but approachable and human (there's swearing, and not just of the "God's blood!" variety). The final version of the first line, spat by some of young Dan's contemporaries, is, "'Your sister is a whore.'" He replies, "Which makes me a whoresbrother." That was my Dan. And my agent liked it too.
I'm the author of My Name is a Knife, All True Not a Lie In It, and The Old Familiar.