Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, September 13, 2007

And the Nominees Are...

E-MAIL UPDATE: My work e-mail is now working again, so please feel free to e-mail me queries and other work-related matter. Thanks for your patience. My incoming mail from the past day should still reach me despite the error messages you received, so please hold off on e-mailing me again unless you don't hear from me by tomorrow morning.

Now for the SUFLC.

Before we get to the nominees, I'd first like to thank everyone who entered -- this was a ridiculously difficult job Anne and I had, and we were both very impressed by the quality of the nominees. So give yourselves a big round of applause, pats on each other's backs, and heck, a few rounds of "For he/she is a jolly good fellow/lady" wouldn't be unwarranted either.

Speaking of Anne... how can I thank Anne enough for helping me with this huge task?? Have I mentioned Good Girl Lit? THE BOOK OF JANE? CONSIDER LILY? EMILY EVER AFTER? Let's see what else... Oh! I promised Anne everyone's firstborn child. Hope that's ok.

So. What makes for a good first line? GOOD QUESTION. Anne and I tried to judge these genre-appropriately and went with our gut instincts about what grabbed us. You will see from the finalists that they are on the shorter side -- I'm not opposed to longer first lines, but word choice and flow is just so important and I found that it was harder to maintain over a longer first line.

But really, in describing what makes a great first line, I think Anne said it best in one of the many e-mails we sent back and forth trying to narrow down the list:

"In looking over the finalists, I realize I tend to like the ones that leave you wanting to know what they mean. They don't necessarily ask a question, but pose a situation that you want to know more about. I guess that's what a first line is supposed to do—draw you in—but it's interesting to see how it works."

Couldn't have said it better myself. In fact I didn't say it better myself.

Without further ado, here are the nominees. Remember, please be an honest voter and also post in the comments section who you voted for and why. Write-in votes need to be non-anonymous. Voting will be open for three days and will close whenever the widget decides it's time to close -- sometime Sunday. Thank you again to everyone who participated!!

I'm going to list the nominees here because the voting thingie limited me to 100 characters and one of them had to be shortened to fit. In no particular order:


"There's this girl I've never met that I know everything in the world about." - Eric

"His hands just looked dirty to casual eyes, a slight darkening on the knuckles, a shadow on his palm." - Conduit

"Brooklyn didn't know very much about me, which was exactly what I needed in a friend." - CC

"That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours." -- jeanne

"When Earth exploded we knew there was going to be trouble." - JD (Myspace)

"Some people have to try really hard to be a princess, but I am lucky because I was born one." - Renee (Myspace)

"I'd only been in love with her for ten minutes when everything turned to shit." Derek

"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

UPDATE: I'm switching over to write-in votes due to irregular activity. Sorry for the inconvenience. I'm all for spreading the word on the Internet, but it's not fair to the nominees when so many people are coming to the site from one specific place. This should be a contest based on merit -- if you are spreading the word on the internet please do not tell people who to vote for. Hopefully this will work. Anonymous votes will not be counted.






211 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 211   Newer›   Newest»
James Bailey said...

I voted for Brooklyn. Lots of good choices, but personally I don't like the undefined subject ("him," "her," "the boy's parents") in an opening sentence. I need names, dammit. Maybe it's just me.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I voted for Conduit and I freely admit bias. I was his editor; I bought his first story. I also critiqued his latest book and it's fabulous. He's everything a writer should be: progressive, talented, educated in his craft, and he tackles the tough topics.

And besides all that, he's just a great all around guy who now owes me several beers. GO CONDUIT!

Words In Words Out said...

I voted for a write in.
Josephine Damian:
"Her children played pick up sticks in the next room as the fat man forced himself into her."

You get a sense of something amazing here...something horrible is going on and like that good 'ol car crash I can't help but want to see the body, even if I know I'll regret it. The kids with the pick up sticks, so innocent and makes that other room so much more dark and tragic. BRAVO!

Kadi Easley said...

I voted for Derek. His line made me laugh and I wanted to read the story. Can't do better for a first line in my opinion.

Way to go Derek!

AmyB said...

I voted for Derek too. Lots of good choices here, but I really wanted to find out what happened at the 10-minute mark.

Sophie W. said...

Hot damn! That arsonist line is fantastic. And not just because I've got a soft spot for arsonist stories, either (I never did recover from that three-day long FLCL extravaganza). Great job, Jeanne.

yowza said...

Shouldn't Derek's read "I'd been in love with her for only ten minutes..."?

I think the "only" is misplaced. Anyone?

Chrys Buckley said...

I voted for Derek too. I liked a lot of them but as I read the list, that was the one that really jumped out at me.

sunjunkie said...

All well done, but I'm drawn to CC's (though I think it'd be even stronger without the word "very"). I like the tone and the way it puts you right in the narrator's head.

DeadlyAccurate said...

Standing by my first choice, a write-in vote:

Here is the question the people of my hometown of Vigilant, Michigan want answered: Why did I, Grace Johnson, an African-American high school senior, an honor student, take two bullets to protect the life of the white supremacist jackass Jonathan Gilmore? --Lafreya

Over on my blog I posted a couple dozen more runners up.

yowza said...

It was a tough call between "arsonist" and "brooklyn," but I ended up going with arsonist because it less vague and more hard-hitting.

I decided not to do a write-in to spare the process being dragged out further, but IMO, there were several great lines that N&A didn't put through. So keep writing, everyone!

original bran fan said...

Can't vote. Just can't. They are all soooooo good. I'd make a terrible agent, having to make these kinds of judgement calls all day.

And every single one of these opening lines is better than mine.

You know what that means--back to work!

Danette Haworth said...

I voted for Derek's because it's so ridiculouly true! I'm assuming it's YA, and that's why it makes so much sense.

serenity said...

I voted for Derek's. It has punch, humor, the what-happens-next-factor, and at least ten minutes of happy.

JDuncan said...

Well, Derek had been my pick originally after I'd read through them all. It conveyed both humor and potential calamity, which is a good way to begin any story I think.

Words In Words Out said...

123 votes in only about an hour? I'll cower with Nathan and watch the moral fabric of the world fray at the edges...

Christina Berry said...

I voted for the disappearing footprints. Something needs to be figured out...and the stakes are high. My kind of book.

onovello said...

I voted for Conduit, too; his was the only line in the finals that made it to my list.

I was really surprised that Dramabird's line about the "gates of the Emerald City" didn't make it. I'd buy a book with that opener in a heartbeat.

There were others that grabbed me simply because they made me laugh, particularly Monica's line about the 42nd president, and others -- like Deadly Accurate's "Steve Strohman peered over his gray cubicle wall..." -- that drew me back for more readings simply because of their imagery.

So many good ones!

Katie said...

I chose Eric's... his is the only one that was on my list yesterday. I'm not sure what grabs me, here, but SOMETHING does! I want to know why he knows everything in the world about a girl he's never met. Not how, but why.

I thought about doing a write-in for DeadlyAccurate's offering, but it WAS two lines, and I figured I should vote for one of these.

I also freely admit that Derek's line is excellent. Why doesn't it catch me? Well... I have a hard time with the idea that the moment a person falls in love can be so well-defined. There can be a moment when you realize it, definitely... but that's different. The cussing also warns me that the book will probably have more swearing than I like.

Other notes...
1) All but two are first person, which is definitely interesting. Would these lines work just as well if they were third person?
2) Nathan and Anne avoided all the "I'm dead" lines... interesting...
3) I'm realizing that my favorite of these lines could continue to hook me if they take one direction, or loose my interest completely if they take another... which proves that a first line is ONLY good enough to last you until the second line! (Isn't that encouraging.)

And finally...

Just shy of 10% of the voters are commenting!!! What's up with that? (Unless people are repeat voting.)

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Too many good choices, but I voted for Brooklyn. I wanted to know more about this person who needed a friend who knew nothing about them...and is that friend a "city"?

Annalee said...

I voted for earth exploding, and not because it had something in common with my submission. I was evaluating these with an eye towards which ones would make me stop and read the first page if I saw it at the store. The content of the sentence starts to set up a story, but more importantly for me, the tone begins to set up a character.

And I agree with James-- I generally prefer names to pronouns right up front. Showing character is better than telling character, but telling character is better than neither showing nor telling. For me, starting a story with a third-person pronoun only works if that first sentence hooks me on the character-- not the character's problem, or on something the character's trying to find out, but on the character proper.

Other Lisa said...

(Closes eyes...points finger wildly) - Jeanne's - but I could have easily voted for at least two others.

Heidi the Hick said...

Katie commented:

"I want to know why he knows everything in the world about a girl he's never met. Not how, but why."

Yes. That's it. That's why I voted for that line.

Jaye Wells said...

I voted for Derek, too.

Thanks, Nathan and Anne!

Phil said...

I voted for Eric.

"There's this girl I've never met that I know everything in the world about." - Eric

I want to know who this girl is and what happens between Eric and the chick.

otherkatie said...

I'm writing in a vote for for deadlyaccurate's entry #1.

"Steve Strohman peered over his gray cubicle wall, a little bald prairie dog checking for coyotes."

I love the tension and the humor.

So many good entries and the finalists were excellent choices, but out of the whole lot, deadlyaccurate's is the one I want to keep reading the most.

Scott said...

I voted for the arsonist line. It poses a puzzle that interests me. I want to know more about it. What's up with this whole arson thing? Who would do such a thing? And why didn't this arsonist get that one house? I really want to know.

It could be because neighborhood arson was a top story on our local news last night, but I don't think it's just that. The line makes me want to know more, more than the others do.

Kaytie M. Lee said...

I vote for JD.

I want to know who gets to watch the Earth explode.




I think it's telling somehow that six of the eight finalists are first person narratives. Generally speaking, I don't care for whole novels written in the first person. That's just me, though.

Marlene said...

Which line would make me take the book to the cash register? I realize that eliminates all the wonderful lines with subjects I don't care about. But I had to pick something and I couldn't decide! So....

JD. The earth blowing up. Sounded like it had the potential to be funny and I could relate. I'm always the one to get in trouble when something bad happens.

Barbara B. said...

I vote for Derek.

I think everyone did a great job. It takes alot just to put your words out in the open for others to critique and read.

Marti said...

I voted then left a comment but my commnet doesn't seem to be showing up. I voted for Conduit.

Best wishes to all of the nominees!

Linnea said...

I vote for Conduit. Well done visual lines always grab my attention.

Sam Hranac said...

Here is a vote for:

"There's this girl I've never met that I know everything in the world about." - Eric

Been there, felt that. And yet it leads to almost anywhere. A good combo.

dr. love said...

Put me down as a vote for Eric.

How do you put into words why something moves you? Doesn't matter. It's just a great line. Good job.

Tammie said...

Okay I my vote went to Dereks!

Why - The voice.

My second was the arsonist line - loved the all but one house being hit - great storyline.

This was fun! And great points made by some already regarding the notice of no dead storylines and first person - maybe Nate can comment on those?

Thanks for all that you do Nate!

Nathan Bransford said...

On first person -- I really hadn't noticed that most were first person! Maybe there's something about first person that allows you to convey a very specific and engaging voice right off the bat that gave people who wrote in first person a leg up. Or it could be a coincidence -- some of those would be just as effective in third person.

Some of the "I'm dead" ones very nearly made the cut, but ultimately most of those depended on their ability to shock and surprise by letting the reader know the narrator is undead, and these days an undead narrator isn't that shocking or surprising. The best "I'm dead" ones were able to surprise and jar in a way that didn't depend merely on the fact that the narrator or protagonist is undead (and there were some), but ultimately Anne and I went with the ones I listed because we felt they were the strongest. It was a very tough call though.

Marti said...

A moment of silence for innocence lost, as Nathan removes the voting poll which was being abused.....

Anonymous said...

"There's this girl" just seems so...soft?? I think this line would be even stronger if the author named her. Annie is a girl I've never met but know everything about. Thoughts?

And Derek's line uses a cliche. Google the phrase "everything turned to sh*t" and a BUNCH of lines come up. Insert the beginning about a girl and love and voila! I would love knowing Nathan's thoughts on this one.

Christopher M. Park said...

"That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours."

Very compelling. This was the one that I was able to parse quickest out of all of them (as quick as "Call me Ishmael"), and this clarity, more than anything else, is why I liked this one the best. It's also immediately setting up a mystery without being to heavy-handed with it.

D said...

What makes for a good first line? Something that makes me want to read the second.
I vote for Eric's because he accomplished that.

Nathan Bransford said...

Anon-

I disagree about naming the girl because the very first question that comes to mind is: "Who is the girl?" If you name her it takes away a lot of the mystery of that line, and the mystery is what hooks the reader.

And Derek's line about turning to shit didn't bother me because it conveyed a specific voice of a specific character. The use of what would otherwise be a cliche in a good context can give a sense that the narrator is an average person, which is why I think a lot of people read that and said, "Yup. Been there."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan Bransford said...

Anon @ 10:11-

You can vote for whomever you want, those were just the nominees Anne and I agreed on. Feel free to write in (non-anonymously) your vote.

Also, FYI henceforth I'm going to start deleting anonymous sniping -- if people want to say something about the nominees they can do so with their names attached. And clearly you shouldn't say anything you need to say anonymously.

dramabird said...

My vote is for "There's this girl ..." because there are so many possibilities as to what/who the narrator is in relation to the girl. A stalker? A time traveler? A psychic? A mom who gave a baby up for adoption?

The wide array of possibilities, not to mention the presentation of two facts that seem mutually exclusive (knowing everything about someone you've never met ... how?) makes it intriguing.

And my heartiest thanks to both Amused Lurker and Onovello for including my "Emerald City" line in their personal lists. It felt great to know that it caught your eye!

trenchgold said...

Eric

Anonymous said...

From ANON 10:06:

Nathan, thanks for the explanation. Great to see your POV and gives me ample food for thought.

Amy said...

Conduit. It was very original. Some of the other nominated lines seemed tired, like they've been done before. (No offense! My entry did too.) But Conduit immediately established a mystery- if it's not dirt, what is it? We all hope it's something more sinister.

odofitzg said...

I think that of the eight posted, Conduit's is the best.
It promises the ability to describe (rapidly) subtle effects, and it is a mystery. It might be that he's an alien, a demon, a coal-miner. What will happen next?
I noticed the number of first-person entries as well, but it seemed to me that of the entries posted there was a vast majority of first-person entries, certainly in the "short" category.
Neat contest.
-- Odo

RED STICK WRITER said...

My write-in vote goes to Conduit. We're already getting to know one of the players. His identity is as yet unknown to us, but from what Conduit shares in his first splash of ink makes want to know more. That's how people get sucked into books.

Valerie said...

"Brooklyn didn't know very much about me, which was exactly what I needed in a friend." - CC

This one gets my vote. It leaves me asking so many questions - Is Brooklyn a borough or a person? Is the person speaking a he or a she? Is he hiding from something or someone? If so, why? So much wrapped in so few words...

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

The footprints ended abruptly


There are more hook questions per word used than I thought possible in one short sentence.

katemoss said...

I vote for Eric. I like the characters voice despite the fact that what he's saying could put him in the creep category.

brita said...

Congratulations, everyone. These lines were a pleasure to read.

I vote for Eric. Conduit, CC and footprints are excellent, too.

Nathan and Anne, thank you for taking the time to do this. You are the real heros.

Troy Masters said...

I vote for jeanne's:

"That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours."

For the record, I also enjoyed the '"I am not a cat," said the cat.' entry from the original list, as I've spent probably too much time thinking about that line since I read it.

Josephine Damian said...

I hereby officially cast my vote for (drum roll please....):

Conduit said... His hands just looked dirty to casual eyes, a slight darkening on the knuckles, a shadow on his palm.

(God is in the details. Incredibly strong word choice, and nothing wasted. “Casual” eyes lets you know there’s much more going on here than is stated. The reader is instantly engaged in imagining and wondering just what those hands have done. The violence is implied, and left to the reader’s imagination, which is far more personally frightening than any danger a writer enacts.

Why my man Conduit rules is his power of brevity, the force of his quite subtlety, the way he entices the reader to participate in the story by letting them fill in the blanks. Nothing impresses me more than a writer who follows the Hemingway “iceberg” principle - "If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

SS@S, not surprised we both see Conduit's incredible potential since I tend to agree with your comments on POV in the comments on the various blogs we cross paths.

I'm jealous that you got to read his book!

Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble signing in and I'm not sure if my vote counted or not.

I vote for "The footsteps ended..."

The whole sentence is just very mysterious -- who laid the footsteps? Why did they just stop? What happened to the boy's parents?

--WendyNYC

I would keep reading to find out what happens next, for sure.

Ello said...

My vote is for Conduit since he is the only one here from my list of faves to vote for! I posted my favorites on my blog so I won't repeat here but I'm surprised Trenchgold's didn't make the list - I loved that "sloppy Picasso" line!

C.J. said...

well, i had three favs picked out, both of scaramouchex's and CC's brooklyn one. so as not to throw my vote away in this hegemonic octpartisan system, i'll put in my official vote for CC's captivating first line, though all the finalists' entries were catchy.

mkcbunny said...

My vote is for jeanne.

It came down to jeanne or CC. Both were on my shortlist. The Brooklyn line makes me wonder "person or place"? However, I also think that question will be answered in the subsequent sentence. The arson line makes me wonder if the narrator might be the arsonist, but I know it's going to take the whole story to find out what really happened.

I think the reason I responded to both of these lines, in addition to their being intriguing and punchy, is that they seem like the kind of opening line that encapsulates the whole book. Lines that, when you're finished reading, you'd go back, re-read, and understand why they were the first. Jeanne's reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird, the beginning of a long flashback that ends with violence.

I would also read on about Earth exploding, and JD's line did grab me. Just not as much as the two above.

Thanks everyone.

Tammie said...

Thanks Nathan for the insight on first person and "dead people"

The thing with Dereks was I couldn't assume it was YA - with that voice it could bascially go off in any direction which kept me going back to it.

Rebecca said...

I vote "When Earth exploded we knew there was going to be trouble." - JD (Myspace)

It wasn't because of the humour but because of the genre the line probably falls into. The others were just a bit 'normal'...

Rebecca Hawkins

Mary Paddock said...

Write in vote and explanation

"There are only two kinds of people in the world," Frankie told me as he took a revolver out of the drawer and placed it on the desk between us. "There's the ants and there's the ant eaters. Guess which I am?"

Bangkok Jimmy

I am two people--the writer who more or less understands the "rules" to this writing thing and the reader who doesn't care about them.

As a writer, I know the rule about starting a story out with dialogue being a technical "no-no" (though I have no idea what committee voted that one in and can only assume it was on a slow day).

As a reader--I was immediately engaged by the unique phrasing (ants/anteater), the question and the gun. As a reader, I want the rest of the story. Bangkok Jimmy--where ever you are--I hope you've written it.

Mary Paddock

Rebecca said...

Lots of great choices, but my vote is for the arsonist. It immediately grabbed my attention. It's great opener as it makes me ask the question why arson - what's happening?

Tricia Grissom said...

I vote for Eric.

His intriques me.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

So I guess you're only going to let me vote for CONDUIT once, eh?

Didn't say we can't lobby the other voters, though. :D

Precie said...

Ack! I knew it! I'm paralyzed by indecision. Sorry. But a hearty congratulations to everyone on the short list! And an exuberant thank you to Nathan and Anne!

dr. love said...

I think it's important to recognize the excellent entries that didn't make the final cut.

I've already voted but I wanted to mention how much I loved the following lines:


Like most people, I prefer that problems be solved with very little of my own direct participation, so it was with unconcealed annoyance that I responded to mother's request that I fetch Jacob from the bottom of the pool.

-R.C.

(I totally want to know what that's all about.)


Who knew her virginity could be worth that much?

By lorra

(It struck me as just a powerful sentence.)

janniel said...

I'm not voting, but I am admiring. There were so many good candidates!

I am glad to know you prefer shorter to longer. Although some of the longer ones were virtuoso pieces of writing, they didn't grab one quickly as a killer first line should.

triptrumpet said...

I'd go with the arsonist. It's direct and immediately makes you want to know more. Not sure how some of the other even made the cut.

2readornot said...

I vote for Derek's because i definitely want to read more -- I'm hooked!

Sandra Gail said...

For me, the hard choice was between Erik, Jeanne, and Derek. All three first lines have a wonderful way of launching the plot, like a skier at the top of a slalom run. However, Derek's line is my choice. It has that "voice" thing going for it. Right off, I liked the character and even had a little laugh with him.

PS Once again my first post didn't take. It this ends up being a duplicate - sorry. Sandra Gail

eric h / bonehead said...

Hey, Nathan:

You're up late picking finalists, idiots trash your voting system...
and then I send an irritating little snark.

My deepest apologies. I've had a very bad morning, and nothing is working, including my brain.

Sorry, folks.

And if you'll still have my write-in: “Far up on a topmost shelf...” by eric (not me) @ 11:39am on Sept 10.

And if you would bump my previous note off the page, please... Thanks.

--- eric h / bonehead

Derek said...

I vote for Jeanne the Arsonist...I definitely want to know what's going on there.

(And for anyone who's wondering, my novel is commercial fiction...I think. Not YA in any case.)

Nathan Bransford said...

eric h-

Don't sweat it (we've all been there). Thanks for the vote!

Conduit said...

Just got home from work to discover I'm on the list! That's made my day. :)

If forced to choose, I'd have to go with Eric's. Derek's is a close second.

I have to say, though, that my favourite of all the hundreds was the one where the narrator doesn't realise they're in heat, but thinks they've got worms. Sorry, can't remember whose that was.

Anyway, my official vote goes to Eric.

Eric said...

I voted for Brooklyn. I gravitated to the mystery of the narrator needing a friend who'd be best if they didn't have knowledge of their dirty little secrets. Also economically works in setting the place. And, yes, Brooklyn is one of those rich places that properly handled can also be a character (friend). So, a great setting at that.

Eric said...

Thank you, Conduit. I really liked yours as well. But, as you just saw by my previous post, I went for Brooklyn. Looks like you're taking the cake so far anyway...so well done, sir.

Best,

Eric

Travis Erwin said...

Since CC's line about Brooklynn was my only pick to make the finals I'll vote for it ...

But Bernita's ...

She liked walking here among the little mysteries, even on this cold, still day at the turning of the year when the trees were bone-bare and the crystal-bound earth crunched under her boots like broken teeth.

... is still my overall favorite.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Totally off topic, but Nathan, I'll gladly send you my first-born IF you'll send him to that fancy private school in Mill Valley near my sister's house. You know: the one George Lucas sends his kids to. I'll even pay the tuition; it's about educating the bright little stinker.

As for a vote, I'm going with jeanne's. I want to know why her house was spared. I'm betting she's really Glinda the good witch in disguise.

jjdebenedictis said...

I vote for Conduit.

There were so many first lines that tried to grab your attention in obvious or cheap ways; this one did with elegant writing alone.

In a fine display of "show, don't tell", Conduit lets your brain figure out what those dark marks are, which immediately makes you wonder what the story behind the bruised hands is. This line, more than any other, drew me on and made me want to know more.

Anonymous said...

"There's this girl I've never met that I know everything in the world about." - Eric

Unfortunately, I don't have a blogger account, so I'd have to be anonymous, but if I could fote, that's the one I'd go for. I'd want to read the book just because of that line.
-Christine, Maryland

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dr. Love, for mentioning my entry. Somebody liked it, yipee! I loved yours one, too:

The young girl named Frannie Hanson hurried down the narrow road which led to the rather affluent town of Walden Falls where she liked to poison folks.

I'd definitely want to read more.

Thanks again, Nathan. I feel much better about my opening after doing this exercise.

R.C.

Mary said...

Derek for me. The reason?
I want to read more.

My honorary mention goes to "I've inherited a man?" by Pat O'Brien. I can always go for a fun historical romance.

MBS

Anonymous said...

"yours one"

oops, someone had too much coffee this morning.

R.C.

LD said...

I vote for jeanne's.

jjdebenedictis said...

Er, my hindsight being so sparkling and crisp compared to my foresight, let me clarify my previous post: All the finalists were awesome! I didn't mean to imply that the shortlist contained any "obvious or cheap" attention-grabbers. The 500+ longlist did, however - including (alas) my own.

Marva said...

"When Earth exploded we knew there was going to be trouble." - JD (Myspace)

I love a wry sci fi.

Welshcake said...

Jeanne's arsonist line gets my vote.

I also liked Bernita's 1st entry, tho' it didn't make the final list. I want to know what the first thing was to happen!

David de Beer said...

My vote for:

"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

the reason why being that I prefer linear stories and am wary of hookiness in opening lines. Not fond of a great hook, and then time spent backtracking and filling in the info to finally get to the hook. It's impossible to say, of course, without reading more, but this opening gives me the best impression that this is where the story takes off, right now and here, and with great backstory hinted at and lots of tension and atmosphere already. Love atmospheric works.

Eric's would be second, because it's cute; the rest of the finalists, oddly, are not ones I would have picked for the final list. Not bad, just feel too ordinary still. I'm from the SF fields, so exploding earths happen all the time unfortunately...

meh,that sounds overly negative; overall I thought the openings were pretty solid. My favorite didn't make it, but I'm sticking to voting for the nominees.

Well done to the finalists!

LitWitch said...

I liked CC's and then Derek's. I like the way it includes a relationship to someone else that also says something about the character voice itself.

Scott said...

Conduit. Not really "hook-ish" but it grabbed me.

Where's the rest of the first page?

Dave said...

I vote for this one:
"His hands just looked dirty to casual eyes, a slight darkening on the knuckles, a shadow on his palm." - Conduit

It has a mystery I like.

Dave Wood said...

My fave is:
"Brooklyn didn't know very much about me, which was exactly what I needed in a friend." - CC
It promises conflict on a couple of levels. The narrator is in some kind of trouble, and I want to know what it is. It just sounds ominous. And there is a conflict looming between him/her and Brooklyn. I want to see how that plays out. And finally, the fact that the narrator has secrets implies there are other surprises coming as well. Oh, and the narrator is sympathetic, someone who needs a friend -- unless s/he is something like a hit man who only needs friends to use them. That would be mighty disappointing.
It was close, though. I also liked:
"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon
A trail of footprints ending abruptly offers mystery and promises something big. And the thought that the parents are involved enough to be sending their kid to the end of the footprints is certainly ominous. Yet the boy is knowingly pursuing the quest, which promises heroism. Lots of tension there.

Dave Wood said...

Hmmm. Reading up I just realized that I assumed Brooklyn was a person. Now I realize that's maybe not the case. See? Surprises promised and already delivered!

Colorado Writer said...

The Brooklyn line...because it made me want to know more about the friendship.

Thanks Nathan for doing this.

You've taken over for Miss Snark (although you aren't as snarky).

Jael said...

One more vote for Jeanne's first line about the arsonist. Pulls me right in, gives me scope (the summer), drops me into the middle of the action. More more more!

Bernita said...

I cannot choose from the official list and do not vote.
But I'd like to mention one that charmed me. By Margaret(?), I think.

"When I was a little girl I thought every town had its own vampire."

Susan Sundwall said...

I vote for Conduit because I know a man with hands like the ones he so eloquently describes. The man is a farrier.

krw3b said...

I vote for CC (Brooklyn).

Loved it.

what'sinyoursoul said...

I vote for Derek - his made me laugh out loud, both now and when I read his entry a few days ago.

Go, Team Derek!

Carradee said...

My vote:

"That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours." -- jeanne

That one makes me think more than the others do.

Dr. Dume said...

I vote for Jeanne - that line spells trouble ahead for the protag, and I want to know why the arsonist left them alone as much as the other residents of that street.

David said...

bernita,

I really liked that one, too.

Dot said...

These are all intriguing, although some of them are too over the top for me. I like CC's best.

Magdalenish said...

Okay, I usually lurk on this site but today I will speak up. I will do a write in vote. I don't know where the voting machine thingy is, but I'll leave it in this comment.
I have to say I really loved Isak's first line. I couldn't get this line out of my head all of yesterday. It made me want to read more.

"If there was any trait about him that was of any merit, it was that he was easily forgettable." -Isak

When I first read it I just pictured a busy street in New York with a man just passing through and that there was something about him that no one else could figure out or even wants to try and figure out. It seemed very mysterious and some what inviting to me.
It sort of reminded me of the rum diaries where it takkes you on this crazy adventure with some regular, fascinating guy.
I know I don't have much say amongst everyone, but it's just my opinion.

Thanks- Magdalenish

Nathan Bransford said...

I have to say -- many of the non-finalist write-ins that people are mentioning were among the very last that were cut. You can see what a difficult job it was and how many contenders there were!

Curtastrophe said...

Excellent entries everyone and congrats to the finalists. I've composed my own list of nine favorite one-liners with comments in huge type.

liquidambar said...

I vote for Jeanne.

If I could give a second place, it would be to Derek.

I just asked myself: if I were holding these books in my hand, which one would I really keep reading?

Anonymous said...

A can't vote, but I wanted to thank those of you who short-listed my sentence on your blogs--you made my day.
Nathan, this was great fun. I appreciate the tons of work you must have put into it. You're the greatest!

My vote would have been for Conduit

"Secret Knowledge"
http://patesden.livejournal.com/

Andrew said...

The two that most made me want to keep reading were "footprints" and "arsonist." Though the "footprints" one is a little vague, so my vote goes to "arsonist."

But the footprints one reminds me of something I scribbled in my notebook after hearing the Buddhist monk Mingyur Rinpoche say it: "Go to beach. Go on walk. See you have feet print or not."

Lupina said...

CC got my vote. The idea of needing a clueless friend made me do a mental double-take. It implies all sorts of subtle, potential conflict, and made me want to know more about this secretive person.

How about another contest, entries limited to one day, one per person? I'm sure we would all love to have another go. And I guarantee that 99 percent of them will be terse and in first person.

Josephine Damian said...

Words in, words out.... a thousand thanks for the write-in vote. I'll post the entire scene on my blog tomorrow, along with my judging criteria for my picks.

Re: the "Brooklyn" line - it gave me pause as I considered it as a contender. But if I read some more and found out that Brooklyn was a girl and not the borough, the story would not have interested me as much.

Re: Derek's line - It seemed like I'd already been told the whole story in that one line - I already knew how it ends - why want to read more? Seemed like yet another bad relationship story, I wanted a sense of what made this different from any other I've read.

This alsp applied to most of the dead body lines.

Just my opinions, of course.

Nathan, much thanks for taking a stand on the anonymous snipers.

Go, Team Conduit!

Southern Writer said...

I said it before, and I stand by it. I'm casting my vote for Eric. I was immediately captured by the intrigue of a guy who knows everything about a girl he's never met.

Aside from that, and honestly, I recognized the writing the moment I read it. I'm familiar with the author's work, and have always thought he has the most amazing talent. Anyone can learn to write, but Eric has voice and presence, and everything he writes sings on the page. He's going to be a very famous author someday, and I hope he'll remember little old me who claims to have discovered him first.

sruble said...

I'm voting for: "That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours." -- jeanne

Because I like the sense of danger and I'd want to see if the MC lived with the arsonist or if they were about to get torched next.


I wish I could vote 2x, because a very, very, very close (almost a tie) second place for me is: "Brooklyn didn't know very much about me, which was exactly what I needed in a friend." - CC

Because it makes me wonder who the MC is and why it's good that her new friend doesn't know anything about her.

trendynotspendy said...

I vote for Derek because I would want to read a book that started with "I'd only been in love with her for ten minutes when everything turned to shit."

Heather Wardell said...

None of the ones I really liked made the shortlist, which surprised me, but my vote is for:

"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

There's a lot going on there, and it's really the only one that I can't get out of my head.

Heather

Lauren said...

My vote is for: "The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

Just makes me want to read on to know why the footprints ended so abruptly and who the boy is and how his parents knew this.

Katrina Stonoff said...

From this list, I would choose the arsonist line because it starts in the middle of the action and leaves me with questions.

However, my VOTE is a write-in for the line that said the hardest thing about your mother being pregnant is that all your friends know your parents are still doing it (sorry, I can't find it on the original list, so I've had to paraphrase; the original was much more eloquent).

I like this one because: 1) it's funny; 2) it makes a statement I immediately recognize as true but which never occurred to me before; 3) there's a clear narrator's voice (I'm assuming YA), and 4) I want to read more.

I thought the author was Natalie, so if she's removed her line from the competition, then my vote is for the arsonist.

David said...

Writing in:

"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

With Conduit a fair second.

Both lines suggest deep and sordid plots - not necessarily my cup of tea, but effective for the intended audience.

Dave Wood said...

One of the biggest lessons I've learned from this fascinating contest is how quirky the whole process of writing, submitting, and getting published really is. Looking at Ms. Snark's blog, and Nathan's, and various websites, books, and such, gives single windows on the process and preferences of individuals. But it's cool to see how many other takes there are on this whole thing. It's pretty heartening, really. Twenty rejections doesn't necessarily mean the next query won't be the one, or that there isn't a good publisher just waiting for each of us somewhere out there.

Dave Wood said...

Okay, so call me "Pollyanna."

Merry Jelinek said...

Nathan,

Many thanks for all of the hard work you put into this contest.

Congratulations to all of the finalists, and I agree with Nathan, everyone deserves a big round of applause - there was a lot of great writing that didn't make the finals.

Out of this list, I'll vote for Brooklyn - for some reason I missed it in the original comments section but one glance at it here and it spoke to me more than the others. That's no offense to the other finalists, I think all of your first lines were fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Hello.

I'm "CC" and the Brooklyn line is mine.

Thank you all so very much for liking my first line and explaining why. What generous people you all are.

All the lines are so good, I haven't decided on my favorite yet, but I do like the arsonist one a great deal.

Thanks Nathan for doing this. It's always fun to see how other people write.

--CC

Anonymous said...

I just want to mention two lines I really liked that no one else noted.

Amanda H's line, subtle and very intriguing:

"Alice Baies never thought she would be pleased to see so much garbage."

Mkcbunny's line, direct, strange, interesting:

"The ants were back."

Isak said...

My vote (and I hope it's counted, got here late...) is for wolf's first line:

"If it was up to me, it would rain exactly 14.3% of the time."

It's a very strange, intriguing thing for a character to say--Why so precise? I think that also makes you want to know more about this character and that draws you into the story.

Thanks for the write-in, magdalenish.

Josephine Damian said...

Dave Wood (and everyone else): I would love for the other blogging agents and editors to weigh in, vote and say why a particular line appealed to them.

And this crowd will go positively nuts if Miss Snark jumped in with an opinion.....

Miss Snark? Dare I hope? Either way, kisses to the Killer Yap.

Loquacious Me said...

I vote for Eric. The voice intrigues me.

Melanie Avila said...

I vote for lafreya...

Here is the question the people of my hometown of Vigilant, Michigan want answered: Why did I, Grace Johnson, an African-American high school senior, an honor student, take two bullets to protect the life of the white supremacist jackass Jonathan Gilmore?

There are a lot of directions this could go (romance, political, conspiracy, etc) and I'd like to read more.

I like a longer first line to grab me, the finalists are too short, imo.

David Roth said...

"When Earth exploded we knew there was going to be trouble." - JD (Myspace)

Dave Wood said...

Oh!

"I would love for the other blogging agents and editors to weigh in, vote and say why a particular line appealed to them."

Me too, Josephine! I'm pretty new to the whole blog thing (Who knew all this was out here?) and it didn't occur to me to suggest the possibility, but it *would* be great. It would also be cool if the finalists could include the paragraph or two following their first lines -- to see where they went with them. But that may be asking too much of Nathan and his blog. And the finalists.

Which leads me to my "thanks" to Nathan and Anne. Thanks to you both -- and everyone else. This was a wonderful idea!

Stephanie Zvan said...

Add me to CC's tally.

The other one that would have led me to read on was "So I've been thinking of growing a backbone." I'm terribly fond of books whose MCs do just that.

The Anti-Wife said...

Conduit.

It makes you want to know if it's really dirt or something more.

myrna de vera said...

I vote for conduit.

intriguing; poetic

McKoala said...

Conduit.

Happy to know Miss S is alive and kicking with stilettos.

Spartezda said...

Agh, there are so many I like!

*whines awhile under breath*

All right, I'll vote for a write-in: Cicada, with "She watched her evidence disappear, bite by bite, down the gullets of small sharks."

Sue L said...

I liked about 15 or 20 that I couldn't have put down without reading more, but none of them made the cut.

I have no idea why this cracks me up:
>>mkcbunny said...
"The ants were back."

but this was my fav:
>>Spartezda said...
This was the last time I let a wyvern talk me into anything.
...You just *know* someone is having a really really bad day! :) And they knew it was a bad idea to start with and they did it anyway. What in the world were they thinking and how are they going to get out of it - but more importantly, what else are they going to get into before it's over.

But of the finalists listed, I'll vote for this one.
>>"When Earth exploded we knew there was going to be trouble." - JD (Myspace)

Thanks for hosting this contest, it was fun, but also very educational.

Sue L

Bakerman said...

Given my advanced age, I asked my grandniece (12) to make the selection:

"Some people have to try really hard to be a princess, but I am lucky because I was born one." - Renee

Niece: "She [the princess] reminds me of Ashleigh, and Tiffany, and..." (from her class)

Wants to know when the book comes out. A big Harry Potter fan, but losing steam. Also partial to her uncle. Smart girl.

jellybean said...

"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

Ooooh, creepy and intriguing!

Lora T. said...

My vote goes to Jeanne.

Chumplet said...

We vote here, right? I vote for Conduit's line. I can't say why because I don't really know. It says something to me. I don't need something shocking to make me read further.

Amused Lurker: Thanks for mentioning my line. It's good to know someone finds it intriguing.

Spartezda said...

Aw, thank you, Sue L!

A Paperback Writer said...

I can't see any other way to vote except to post a comment, so I assume that's what were supposed to do.

I'd like to vote for:
"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

But I wish s/he hadn't posted anonymously.

elizabeth said...

tough choice... i am going with jeanne's. i want to know more about the fires...

Anonymous said...

Voting for 'footprints'! I'd definitely read on.

Church Lady said...

My vote goes to CC.
I also love anon's. (Who ARE you?!)

Thanks for a great contest--there were many that were great but weren't included on the list.

Deborah K. White said...

I vote for:

"When Earth exploded we knew there was going to be trouble." - JD (Myspace)

I like the humor in it.

Dr. Joe said...

I vote for "all homes but ours hit by arson ..." etc.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the footprints one. Thanks for the wonderful comments. I find myself wanting to explain, but will refrain. ;)

There were so many dazzling first lines in this contest, very intimidating competition.

I'm torn, but like Eric's because it makes me wonder if it's your regular kind of knowing or something supernatural.


Thanks to Nathan and Anne,

--Footprints
a longtime NB blog lurker

jeanne said...

I'm thrilled to find my first line in such company! I also liked a number of the ones that didn't make the finals. (e.g. Audreyt's: "It's not that I don't believe in miracles; I just don't have time to wait in line." and Lafreya's line that's been mentioned a bunch.)

My vote is for Derek's since I found it funny and fresh. Sounds just like a teenager where the world turns upside down from one moment to the next.

Thanks Nathan and Anne!

Sarah Hina said...

I vote for Eric's.

One line, and I already love the protagonist.

Josephine Damian said...

jjdebenedictis! Where you at? We gotta tag team on this one:

*waves pom-poms* You-can-dooo-eet, Con-doo-eet!

JMP said...

I voted for:
"That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours." -- jeanne

I think it carries with it a large implication, and I wanted to know whether I was right about that, and everything that comes with it.

mkcbunny said...

Thank you to anon and sue L for your comments.

"Direct," "strange," "humorous," and (I hope) "interesting" are all words I like to think describe my WiP. So I'm pleased to hear that the opener brought them to mind.

Matt said...

I realize you said no anonymous votes, but I'm going to have to vote for anonymous.

"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

Also, Phoenix's line should get honorable mention, 'cause it was pretty darned funny.

Maya Reynolds said...

My final decision was between Derek's and Jeanne's.

This may be unfair of me, but I think there is more pressure on Derek to follow through on his first line than there is on Jeanne. She's already established her storyline. If he doesn't have a strong follow-thru, it all over for him.

For that reason, I'm going to vote for Jeanne. And I readily admit if I had seen Derek's second line, my vote might have gone the other way.

But this was very, very tough. I liked all the lines a lot.

Great job, Nathan and Anne.

Curtastrophe said...

For those of you who are interested in other completely subjective albeit "unofficial" SUFLC lists here a few links:

Click Here

Here

Annnnd...Here

Kathy said...

Well, I agree with the other posters: the finalists are inspiring.

Of course, I'm disappointed mine wasn't on the list, plus no one even mentioned it as a possible. (Keep repeating to self: It's not me they're rejecting; it's the writing.)

I give my vote to eric for the girl s/he knew everything about but had never met.

I'd picked it as one that caught my interest. Who was the narrator and who was the girl? And why did s/he know everything about her?

P.S. The website asked me to reenter the letters, so forgive me if this gets posted twice.

Natalie said...

Thanks for your write-in vote, Katrina! I did delete my line, actually...after reading everyone's comments about the best first lines being short, I sheepishly pressed the delete button before slinking away to rethink my line. Anyway, it went like this: Here’s the thing about being sixteen and having a pregnant mother: everyone knows my parents still do it.

Of the finalists, I'm casting my vote for CC...there's voice, mystery, and it makes me want to keep reading. That said, it's a tough choice with so many other good ones!

jjdebenedictis said...

jjdebenedictis! Where you at?

*waves pom-poms*
*shakes booty*

You-can-dooo-eet, Con-doo-eet!

(But I already voted.)

reality said...

Tough choices to make: my vote is for Jeanne and the arsonist. There is an element of danger and mystery in the line, but the voice is friendly. And that grabbed my attention.

btw: I have been studying First lines in published novels and most of them do not raise the stakes immediately.

Also when I browse a book, I end up reading the first page or two, to get a feel of the writing and sample pages from between.

Nathan at the risk of being on your ignored list; how about a first page contest. And you can take two kids each.
Or how about allowing the top 20 to post the first page and see if the voting changes or not.

Of course we love you and treat you like a pet guinea pig.

Stephen Parrish said...

Conduit. The others are great but lack subtlety.

FrostIntoFire said...

I'm going to vote for CC "Brooklyn". I like the idea of Renee's line but it doesn't flow right for me.

alternatefish said...

derek.

Agnieszka said...

I vote for CC. :)

JaxPop said...

I'm going with 'Brooklyn'- The entries & comments overall were great - not to many in 'just fine' category. I do think that if Ann had stayed in the 'competition' she would have made the finals with a great shot at winning the whole enchilada. Her writing partner needs to re-think using that line. (Wonder what line they actually decided on? Hmmmm)Thanks Nathan for taking on this challenge & your continued encouragement - it's a great blog. Thank you Ann for helping the poor guy out &, indirectly, for reminding me that I do need an oil change (appointment on Tuesday). Good job everyone.

JaxPop said...

Can't stand it - OCD kicked in - typo on my comment above - The word is too not to - Ugh!!! Have pity on me - I've been up since 3 AM (EST) drove 80 miles & had only one cup of gas station coffee that tasted like cat____ - well you know. I'll be stressed all day now.

Pam Halter said...

I vote for JD's "When Earth exploded we knew there was going to be trouble."

Sci-fi AND humor ... gotta love it!

Jess said...

I vote for CC, but I agree the "very" isn't necessary.

The line drew me in best and had an honest tone to it I liked.

Josephine Damian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jengt said...

I'm voting for Derek. It's only one line, but I already love the voice.

Josephine Damian said...

jjdebenedictis: Was just giving you a shout out to join in the "Conduit Girl" dance routine.

Natalie: If the contest had been divided by genre (note to Nathan - how about a genre specific first line contest each week until we run out of genres? - I think that sound we all just heard was Nathan tearing out his awesome head of hair :-) - oooh the erotic romance first line contest would be quite interesting! :-0) - your line about the pregnant mom would have been on my list. The same goes for many others (except for all those already dead bodies).

Also, I feel that my opinion would have been different about the ones I picked, and ones I didn't pick if I'd seen a second line or first paragraph.

Many a promise of a dazzling first line goes unfulfilled when reading on; many a less than stellar first line had been redeemed, clarified or expanded upon when read in context with the rest of the opening paragraph.

Nathan, an opening paragraph contest? (I think THAT sound I just heard was our host shooting his computer).

Matt: I think what Agent Nathan meant is that the voter can't use an anonymous account to cast a vote, but the first line contender can be anonymous (many were) and it's cool to vote for them.

It's also cool to vote for Conduit. :-)

MelodyO said...

"That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours." -- jeanne

It was incredibly hard to choose, but if all the books were sitting in front of me, this is the one I'd pick up to read.

To all the non-winning writers who are thinking "does this mean I suck?", go to the book store and read the first line of a few published books. Amazing first lines are hard even for published writers. :0)

PS I read every single contest entry, and after I was done the only line that stayed with me was,
"Steve Strohman peered over his gray cubicle wall, a little bald prairie dog checking for coyotes."

This would have been my winner. ::buys the book::

Mary said...

Yay! Internet is cooperating long enough to vote. My favorite is Eric's. Makes me want to know more.

The Bag of Health and Politics said...

I vote for JD's.

DeadlyAccurate said...

I, too, would love to see the first paragraph (if one exists) of the chosen ones.

Kathy, I wouldn't worry about it. There's nothing wrong with your entry (despite your narrator's assertion to the contrary). It's simply a case of a first line that requires the lines that follow it to be as effective. Just as the first line of a joke is ineffective without the punch line, not every line in a book is so amazing that it can be pulled out of context and still be amazing.

And thanks to everyone who mentioned my entries. I'm honored.

Marissa Doyle said...

I vote for Anonymous and his/her footprints. Wonderfully eerie beginning.

Anonymous said...

A comment for Kathy:

You weren't rejected, you just weren't selected -- big difference! Remember that the list of entires was very, very long. Also, you don't know how many of these people are published, or may have been writing since before you were born! And it's not personal.

However, if you would like some unsolicited advice, I will say that your line ("It's just wrong, Melissa thought.") struck me as insufficiently specific to pique my interest. Many things happen that are "just wrong," and you didn't really give us any clues as to WHAT might be wrong, nor WHO this Melissa is. If you want to get the reader imagining things, you need to give him/her something to start with, a bit of the picture, as it were.

I hope this makes sense and is helpful!

David said...

RE: "I'm not opposed to longer first lines, but..." - Nathan

Late entry: "Hey, Ump, where'd they put the goalpost?"

Alternate: "Well, ya see that-there letter 'O' on that-there billboard up on that-there roof over there?"

sunjunkie said...

Wait... what?

mary paddock posted "As a writer, I know the rule about starting a story out with dialogue being a technical "no-no" (though I have no idea what committee voted that one in and can only assume it was on a slow day)."

I've read plenty of books, articles, blogs, etc. on writing, but I've never heard this rule.

What about Terry Bisson's 1991 Nebula nominee that's *all* dialogue? http://www.terrybisson.com/meat.html

Or Alcott's _Little Women_? ("Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.)

Or McCullough's _Caesar's Women_? ("Brutus, I don't like the look of your skin. Come here to the light, please.")

Or White's _Charlotte's Web_? ("Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.)

Is this a new rule? Where did it come from? I'm confused. Anyone have more info on this?

Nathan, can you be persuaded to weigh in on this? (Ya know, in between tabulating votes...)

Vinnie Sorce said...

Eric gets my vote:

"There's this girl I've never met that I know everything in the world about." - Eric

Graham said...

My vote is for Derek. It makes me want to know what happens next. My runner up vote would have been for Eric (same reason).

Liz said...

My vote is for Anon. Eric was a close second.

Peter Hannan said...

Mr. Bransford;
Even though it wasn't nominated, even though I didn't know about the blog or the contest until one minute ago, I cast my vote unhesitatingly for this undeniable classic:

"I smelled her before I saw her."

Super Goofballs #1: That Stinking Feeling
By Peter Hannan

Sincerely, without a trace of bias,
Peter Hannan

ps. Hoping for a write-in groundswell.
http://www.peterhannan.com/

Margaret said...

My vote is for Jeanne and her arsonist. Well, arsonist line, but if "the arsonist" didn't hit your house, you're gonna be a suspect, right? As others have said, it drops you in the action and gives me a feel for voice and background.
And I vote for Nathan for 'most optimistic helpful agent' of the moment.

burgy61 said...

I am casting my vote for JD's entry, it brigns several questions to mind. Are they on the moon, a space station or flying across the country in a jumbo jet?

I would read on just to see where they were when the earth blew up.

sharon said...

My vote is for "footprints".

Brandi. said...

My vote:

"That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours." -- jeanne

Miri said...

Tossing in another vote for:

"The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy's parents had said they would." - anon

I'm a sucker for kid-adult relationships, and this promises some interesting parent-child moments.

julief said...

I vote for Conduit. It's so subtle that I'm left wanting to know so much more.

Admittedly, though, there's so many good ones that this vote is more based on my current mood than any true comparison of skill and talent among the nominees.

Topher1961 said...

Alas, my imperious curse, squarely leveled at Nathan, struck Josephine Damian instead, and he didn't pick mine.

What great first lines. My favorite isn't on the list. I vote for Eric Hill's.

"It was a time of Miles,Coltrain,and Warhol; a time when the answer was blowing in the wind and we were all Dharma bums howling on the Coney Island of the Mind while the English were reinventing Rock-n-Roll and men eighteen to thirty-five were looking for some way out of the draft."

This is the first line
from his novel 'DISCONTENT'

I like the promise that the rhythm and context sets forth. More than all the others, I wanted to read what came next.

Speaking of that subject, it would be fun to see what some of you did say next.

Robbie H said...

Another vote for ANON and the disappering footprints. On the assumption, of course, that it's not because he's walking to the edge of the sea and the tide's washed away a set of prints. Also on the assumption the kid's parents are either missing or dead and he's following some type of directions that will help him on a quest. :)

Helen said...

All of these are fantastic, but I am voting for Eric.

Pridwynn said...

I'm Pridwynn - I've commented a couple times on your myspace..
Anyway, I'd like to vote for Eric, the "There's this girl I've never met but I know everything in the world about her" or something to that effect. I'm voting for that one because that is definitely something I would read. If that's a book, I bet it would be mysterious and mundo interesting. So yup.
=D

Artemisin said...

I'm voting for Jeanne.
If voting twice is allowed, I'd like to give Renee another vote.

Do you know if any of these belong to a story? Now I'm left wanting more.

Lafreya said...

I vote for ANON,

Thank you to everyone who mentioned my entries . I am so honored

Karen
http://lafreya.blogspot.com/

Tom Burchfield said...

Sorry I'm late to this, as I was away on a research trip. I'm going to vote for Brooklyn's.

Thomas B.

http://tbdeluxe.blogspot.com/

Eileen said...

These are all great- but I'm in for Derek.

Curtastrophe said...

I vote for Derek.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Derek.

Nathan Bransford said...

Reminder: anonymous votes won't be counted. Please leave your name if you want to vote.

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