Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, September 17, 2007

And the Winner Is...

Before I announce the winner, I'd like to first just take another moment to appreciate the amazing entries -- the voting was very close and there were plenty of write-ins, which just goes to show how difficult (and subjective) it is to pull a favorite from so many great entries.

But we do have a winner. And yes, the first line is stupendously ultimate.

The Winner of the First Annual (and Probably Last For a While Until I Have Taken a Vacation or At Least Have a Week Where I Don't Stare At a Computer Screen for 16 Hours a Day) Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge is......

Stall... stall.... stall....

Wait for it...

Wait for it some more...

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

Congratulations, jeanne! You have won yourself a partial manuscript critique. If you need one. I really want to find out why the arsonist spared that house.

Also, I think we have ourselves a little arsonist zeitgeist in the book industry right now -- not only was jeanne's first line the most voted-on entry, but the very critically acclaimed book AN ARSONIST'S GUIDE TO WRITERS' HOMES IN NEW ENGLAND just came out this month. Coincidence? Well, the fire department sure hopes it is.

We'll be back with regular programming tomorrow. Thanks again for participating!






61 comments:

Bernita said...

Hot stuff, Jeanne!

Isak said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

dr. love said...

Congratulations to the winner. It's a very compelling opening.

Just curious, Nathan... what importance do you put on the first line of a manuscript? To be honest, I never gave serious consideration to the idea until this contest. I always opened a story in the way that seemed most natural.

Most everyone will read past the first line of a book. It has never been a factor for me when deciding what to read. What are your thoughts?

Thanks.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Congratulations, Jeanne! Can't wait to read the story. There were definitely too many to choose from.

Super contest, Nathan!!

DeadlyAccurate said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

Linnea said...

Nice going, Jeanne! So give, WHY did the arsonist miss that house? His girlfriend lived there. He lived there. He ran out of fuel. Someone scared him off. The owner's dog took a chunk out of his leg and he was too scared to stay and light the fire. Hmm, that's all I can think of. Bet your reason is NONE of those.

JaxPop said...

Congratulations Jeanne!!! Thanks again Nathan (& Ann) for a real eye opener of a contest. Also wanted to throw out there - sort of ties into the whole 'first' thing. Just finished (with highlighter in hand) an awesome book called "The First Five Pages" by Noah Lukeman. It's been out for a few years but I just happened to stumble on it. Lots of helpful suggestions & "what not to do's" from an agent's perspectve.

Conduit said...

You know in the Oscars when the other nominees smile graciously when they don't win? That's me now. Look at my photo - that's my 'I didn't win' face.

Seriously, heartfelt congratulations to Jeanne. It was well deserved. :)

Precie said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

And thanks again to Nathan and Anne for all their efforts!

Thanks too to all the entrants! What a great contest!

Char said...

Congrats from me too, Jeanne! A very engaging opening.

And delurking to say many thanks for the lovely comments about my footprints line. I was absurdly pleased to be a finalist. :)

Charlene, aka "Footprints"

MLM said...

Jeanne, well done! (As in very burned, heehee). Your line was awesome. Congrats to you, and I hope the partial critique is GREAT for you and your career.

Congrats to all the finalists for a fine job and to everyone who entered. Lots of great lines. It'd be fun to string them all together for quite the interesting book!

Nathan, thanks for opening your blog for this contest and for enduring all the mayhem that ensued.

Anne, thanks for lending your talents to help Nathan judge!

Josephine Damian said...

Congrats everybody who was willing to put themselves out there by entering, and extra special kudos to Jeanne for her compelling arsonist line.

But you know Conduit will always be my King, and he certainly represented in this competition.

*waves flag of Ireland*

Thanks to Nathan and Anne for being our esteemed hosts.

If anybody is interested in finding out what happens next after my write in vote first line nomination, please visit http://josephinedamian.blogspot.com to read the rest of the story....

krw3b said...

That was a hoot, Nathan. Thanks.

Yay, Jeanne!

Derek said...

Nice work, Jeanne! It was truly an honor losing to you. And I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say, "Please do not buy a house in my neighborhood!"

Travis Erwin said...

Congrats Jeanne.

Other Lisa said...

Hey - I voted for something that WON! Wow!

Congratulations Jeanne!

Luc2 said...

Cheers, Jeanne.
And thanks for the contest organizers and participants. First lines are great for procrastination.
There are definitely some first lines that make me want to ask when the book will be published.

burgy61 said...

Congratulation's Jeanne! that was a great first line.

wolf said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

The Anti-Wife said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

Tom Burchfield said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

Melanie Avila said...

Congratulations Jeanne!

Nathan, thanks for the contest. It was great seeing such a variety in one place. And Anne, thanks for taking the time too!

Melanie

claud said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!!! It really is a fabulous first line -- it had my vote, too!

Onovello said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

Phoenix said...

Yay, Jeanne! That line really sparked some interest! (I know, *groan* -- but, really, how many of YOU wanted to say it, huh? Well, there's Bernita...)

This was fun! Thanks, Nathan (and Anne)!

Jamie Ford said...

Kudos Jeanne!

(Burning down the house--Talking Heads, playing in the background somewhere...)

Scott said...

That really was fun, and the one I voted for won, proving that I have impeccable taste. Actually, I hardly ever vote for the winner on these kinds of things, so I guess my taste is pretty peccable.

But now the question I've been waiting to ask:

Is the first line that important?

I don't think I've ever purchased or decided not to purchase a book based on the first line. And many of my favorite books, several of them considered classics, have pretty dull first lines, although what follows is amazing. In fact, I think many brilliant first lines seem almost gimmicky, and a great first line is not necessarily followed by a great book.

Dave said...

Congrats. That's a nice opening line.

I just started reading "AN ARSONIST'S GUIDE TO WRITERS' HOMES IN NEW ENGLAND". It's got a sense of humor, a very dry one but a sense of humor. I bought it on the strength of its title. Seems like fun.

I've bought a few books from the first lines and some I liked, some I regret ever touching. Mixed bag.

eric said...

Well done, Jeanne. Here's wishing you even more and greater success to follow.

A big thank you to Nathan and Anne for hosting and all the hard work to review and whatnot.

Thanks also to those who tossed me their vote.

Words In Words Out said...

Congrats Jeanne! Can't wait to buy your book ;)

Ello said...

Congratulations! So when can we read some more?

Bakerman said...

Send a telegram!

"Congratulations, Jeanne!"

julief said...

congrats, jeanne!

Marti said...

Jeanne, you win was well-deserved. Congratulations to you!

Thanks to Nathan and Anne for judging - what a monumental task with so many wonderful entries.

Best wishes to all!

Curtastrophe said...

'Grats Jeanne!!

While I don't think that opening lines necessarily "make or break" my decision to read a book, yours was excellent.

Great contest too.

I'd be interested in reading what follows yours and the other contestants first lines. Mine is here.

Jeanne said...

Wow, I was really surprised to see Nathan's announcement! Thanks so much for all the votes and comments, both for my entry and the awesome competition. I learned a lot from the reasons folks gave for why they voted the way they did. And, of course, thanks to Nathan and Anne for the all the work they put into this.

For those who are wondering, my entry is the first line of a mainstream fiction manuscript that's been through a few revisions. As to why the narrator's home was spared, I wouldn't be able to reveal that without revealing the guilty party, and I hate to spoil a mystery. ;->

The partial critique from Nathan couldn't come at a better time as I'm not sure whether this ms is ready for querying or needs more work.

Thanks again!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yay, Jeanne!!!

And thanks for doing this, Nathan. It was great fun (and that offer to send you my first-born still stands.)

K.C. Shaw said...

Ack, I forgot to vote! But that's okay, since I really like the winning entry. Congrats, Jeanne!

Lupina said...

Heartfelt congrats, Jeanne, and thanks Nathan for the contest and for letting a newbie take part. The exact same contest was part of an exercise in a writer's conference I attended last year, and I thought it was great fun, then. In fact, my entry was one that I had used for that, made up on the spot. It didn't win then, either (an even longer one with more commas...something about snorting lines of coke off a dead mother's photo... did) but it garnered a few good comments and inspired a sci-fi short story. I think I learned more from the comments in this contest than that one, however.

Nathan, I do hope you will answer the questions about the weight agents place on the first sentence when considering partials.

A worthy experience regardless of the outcome.

Merry Jelinek said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!!! And it sounds like the prize is perfect for where your ms is right now, best of luck.

Thanks again, Nathan, we all had a wonderful time with this contest and appreciate all the hard work on your part.

Anonymous said...

Yay Jeanne!

So happy for you. It's a great first line. Wishing you an agent and a sale! Fast!

-- CC (Brooklyn line)

Tammie said...

Congratulations Jeanne!

Anne-Marie said...

Congrats, Jeanne, and thanks to Nathan and Anne for all their hard work.

Maybe we can have a "best last line" contest? What, too soon? ;)

AM

Maya Reynolds said...

Congratulations, Jeanne. Excellent job.

Thanks to all the entrants who were willing to put themselves out there. There were so many terrific first lines.

And huge thanks to Nathan and Anne. I can't believe you took that task on. (Do I hear the ghost of Miss Snark chortling?)

McKoala said...

Congratulations, Jeanne! That was fun; lots of great lines. Thanks, Nathan.

Dr. Dume said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

When you're reclining by the pool in your millionaire-writer's mansion, spare a thought (and some pocket change, perhaps?) for those of us who voted for you ;)

Danette Haworth said...

Congratulations, Jeanne! A partial critique from an agent is a desirable prize.

Very generous of you, Nathan. (And Anne!)

A Paperback Writer said...

bravo, Jeanne.
But I like Josephine's idea. It would be great if you finalists would post brief plot synopses on your blogs so we could have some clue what the rest of the tales were about. How 'bout it?

Chumplet said...

That was fun, Nathan. Thanks! Best of luck with your novel, Jeanne.

Kadi Easley said...

Congrats, Jeanne!

reality said...

Congratulations Jeanne,
That was a wonderful great line. I did get something write by voting for you.

Thanks Nathan for so much fun and excitement in the world of Nathan addicted writers.

Now do answer how important is the first line. I think Scott said that a lot of great novels start with lines that are dull.

FrostIntoFire said...

Congratulations Jeanne! And many thanks to Nathan (and Anne) for such a great contest.

Seconding what others have already said... how important is that first line? I mean, I love a good first line and would obviously rather have a good first line in my own WIP than a bad one. But looking over my favourite books, I find almost none of them have first lines that I even remember, let alone something that grabs you straight away.

Or is it simply a case of Miss Snark's old adage "Good writing trumps all"?

Char said...

a paperback writer--

It's not a synopsis, but I've posted a few paragraphs of VANISHED, a YA wip, on my blog.

--Charlene/"Footprints"

Southern Writer said...

Girl, you're on fire. Congrats!

Dave Wood said...

Well done, Jeanne! And thanks again, Nathan.

Margaret said...

Yay Jeanne. Next best thing to being on the top ten list is voting for the one that won!

(Thanks for the write-in vote Bernita.)

Nathan, thanks for the contest! (Now, do a best first paragraph contest ...yeah... just kidding.) After the contest ended (sigh) I came up with a rewrite of my first line in my current ms in progress that I really like, and I do think it matters!
On a different note, I'm new to this site and have been reading old posts to see if you have answered my questions already (random ones like font) and yes, you're batting 100, including the best font answer I've seen. Which is: Times New Roman, double space = one ms page is equivalent to one published page. (my paraphrasing of Nathan's post, for those of you who wonder and haven't found this info.)
Thanks again!

mkcbunny said...

Congratulations jeanne!

And thanks Nathan and Anne. It was helpful to read people's comments and to think about why one line seemed more compelling than another.

tammi said...

To steal from Paris...

"That's hot."

Bernita said...

Margaret, you took me back.
When I was a little girl I heard there was a place in our area named "Baghdad." And for a time I was sure there were genies and jinn and open sesames just a few miles beyond the reach of my little feet.

LindaBudz said...

Great first line, Jeanne! And I'm even more intrigued now that I know it's a mystery ... and that we don't know why the house is spared until the mystery is solved. Sounds amazing!

Re: the importance of first lines, I have an ongoing feature on my blog where I rate the first lines of kids books, and I've noticed a couple of things: (a) older books tend to have less interesting first lines than today's books ( I think all those writing/publishing classes that tell today's writers they need compelling first lines are to thank for that) and (b) the more well established the author, the more likely the first line won't be especially interesting (guess you don't have to worry so much about grabbing an editor once you've made a name for yourself).

Vinnie Sorce said...

Congratulations, Jeanne!

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