Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, September 10, 2007

The Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge

You have been waiting for years and years for this. Ok, two and a half days. And now it has arrived.

As stated in Friday's post, the Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge's rules will be ill-defined and the winners subjectively chosen, so let's all just take a deep breath and agree that we will not get angry at the stupendously ultimate contest organizational committee (which has one member) and will enjoy this contest for the good hearty fun that it is -- in fact, I've just been assured by the surgeon general that participation in this contest counts as three servings of vegetables.

The rules -- er, on second thought let's call them guidelines:

1) All may participate, whether agented or unagented, published or unpublished, living or unliving.

2) Leave in the comments section one (1) first line to a novel, memoir, work of nonfiction or other such matter intended to be the opening of a book -- it may be your work in progress or something you have crafted for the purposes of the Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge. A second line may be included if it completes the first line, however aforementioned second line's necessity will be judged with great scrutiny since this is a first line contest (and a stupendously ultimate one at that).

3) Entries may be made between now and sometime late Wednesday night Pacific time. In Thursday's post I will put together a list of nominees for the grand prize and you the readers will have an opportunity to vote on the ultimate winner, which will be announced on Monday. (That is, if I can figure out how to enable voting.)

That's it! New rules will be introduced haphazardly, so keep an eye on the comments section.

And now the prizes. The prizes!! The grand prize winner will receive the satisfaction of a job well done, the esteem of his/her fellow blog readers, and...... a partial manuscript critique from the stupendously ultimate contest organizational committee of one! (Or some other equally stupendously ultimate non-cash prize if the winner doesn't need a manuscript critique.)

It was a dark and stormy night. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... Who will add their first line to the ranks of the greatest opening lines in literature? Let's find out.






473 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 473   Newer›   Newest»
Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

There are some men who look as if they were born to wear the cassock and others who appear as if they are overdue to return a rented Halloween costume, but after the Sheriff dropped the exhumation papers onto Father Jellinek’s desk, the contrast of the priest's brickfaced rage against the simple white collar and black shirt gave him an appearance which was nothing short of demonic.

Marti said...

There are days when everything goes right, and then there are days when everything is FUGGDUP.

From nonfiction WIP - “7 Ways You Screw Up Your Life and How to Unscrew It”

David said...

One wing of the huge complex exploded at dawn on February 8, 1945. Two men died in that instant. Everyone else was already dead.

Church Lady said...

"I was unaware of being watched."

From a short story WIP.

Thanks!

Artists are not crazy.... said...

"Nuk Nuk was the only gay Eskimo in his tribe."

Onovello said...

"Looks like we've got a drunk behind us."

amanda h said...

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

Anonymous said...

Nathan,

For those who don't have accounts here, how do you verify a winner for someone who is posting with a temporary name? Obviously the winning line would have to match the partial... have I just answered my own question?

Thanks.

otherkatie said...

I leaned against Mother on account of my afflicted leg.

-from my middle grade novel

Nathan Bransford said...

Anon-

Not sure I understand the question, but let's just use the honor system.

Ello said...

It was a beautiful funeral, very tasteful, very somber. Her grandmother would have hated it.

By the way, Dwight's first line is more like a first paragraph. Not criticizing - just jealous!

Idea Man said...

"Never killed a cop before. Never had to."


Yes, it's fiction.

Jenny said...

"Finding the bedroom door locked when you arrive at your mistress's abode is never good news, even if your mistress is not human."

lafreya said...

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?

eric said...

There’s this girl I’ve never really met that I know everything in the world about.

Josephine Damian said...

“I said, OPEN it.”

First line from my short story, "Safe in the House" about a mob hit gone wrong.

You can read the rest at
http://josephinedamian.blogspot.com

Nathan, are blatant self promotes ok?

How about entering more than once?

Lots of stiff competition already!

Laurie said...

It all started with the cat.

mg novel

Mary Cunningham said...

"The funeral was Tuesday. It was seven days before she could speak."

Nathan Bransford said...

Josephine-

I think self-promotion is ok as long as it is karmically coupled with promotion on the Internets of the SUFLC.

Multiple entries are ok, within reason.

jah said...

When pigeons reach sexual maturity, they pair off.

Anonymous said...

"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

eric said...

Isn’t it peculiar how a man seated in his pickup truck on the side of an isolated country road with a pistol in his mouth will consider getting out of the cab so that he doesn’t make a mess of things?

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Nathan, can we enter twice? :D

Kidding.

The rattle the door made as it closed reminded Sean Kelly of a boat-cave gate slamming down, a sound effect imagined into memory from stories his dad had told him as a child.

Mrs. Revis said...

"I am not a cat," said the cat.

From my completed YA Fantasy MS.

Anonymous said...

PERCY KILBOURNE studied the girl’s soulless eyes.

--Kilbourne, a completed psychological thriller

Anonymous said...

IT IS SO much easier to hunt when the prey doesn’t even know it’s being hunted.

--The Hunter, a WIP psychological thriller

Mrs. Revis said...

Since Nathan said multiple entries are OK within reason, here's my second first line (which is technically two, but he did say they weren't rules, just guidelines, right? right?!)

The last thing Heath expected to see on the day he started his quest to save the Princess of Baloria was a teenaged girl sitting in the middle of the street, covered in mud, crying, and naked. Of course, it's not as if Chloe had expected a knight in shining armor.

From my other YA Fantasy MS.

Conduit said...

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

From my just started WIP - ten pages and counting!

Josephine Damian said...

Thanks, Nathan!

"God, no. Here they come."

Opening line from my suspence thriller WIP, A STUDY IN FEAR

Church Lady, good one. I got the creeps from those just few short words.

K.C. Shaw said...

Okay, I'll delurk for this. Here's mine:

I didn't realize I'd come into season. I thought I had worms.

(from WIP fantasy)

WendyNYC said...

Kate Melton inhaled the last tunnel of smoke deep into her lungs, wondering what happened to her life.

Short fiction WIP

Sarah Hina said...

When he told me he no longer loved me, I fell to my knees.

skottk said...

"I like an unprovoked attack just as much as the next merciless predator, kid, but if you want to sell the ass off something, you got to know more than just who to eat -- you also got to know who not to eat."

from incomplete WIP

Josephine Damian said...

"Her children played pick up sticks in the next room as the fat man forced himself into her."


Opening line from WINDWARD BLUFF, my woman's fiction.

OK, I'm done. Off to school.

Go, Conduit, go!

domynoe said...

From the depths of secret fears . . .

. . . the nightmare wells up, binding the dreamer in a familiar darkness that expands until there is nothing but unrelieved, inky shadow.


Novel in revision: Assassin's Choice.

LostDreams said...

I was six years old the first time I watched a man die; my father put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

otherkatie said...

Entry #2, another middle grade:

"Have you ever stopped to consider, Mr. Edwards, that it might be your glum disposition that's keeping you from finding a suitable wife?" asked the grey wolf.
"My disposition?" asked the frog, who in every aspect resembled an average pond frog, except this one was holding a small teacup and becoming visibly agitated.

LizR said...

A discordant vibration hung for an instant in the steamy garage, and by the time it faded off I think we were all holding our breath.

from current YA WIP, Finders Keepers

original bran fan said...

redo: I had a typo, can I start over? (and Nathan, can you delete my original?)

I meant to post--

"Elizabeth found dead relatives meaningless."

Precie said...

Through the attic’s solitary window, I watched a meaty spider build its web between the eaves and the ivy.

-WIP Palace of Light

Colorado Writer said...

I had six zits; I was chomping on a wad of Original Bazooka and wearing one of those god-awful black hairnet thingies.

From my YA

sex scenes at starbucks said...

OK, entry #2:

Sometimes places—places he hadn’t known existed the day before—beckoned to Aidan.

Anonymous said...

The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy’s parents had said they would.

VANISHED, upper MG novel

Jen said...

Jerry hated his job – and not just because it involved collecting bad ideas – he hated his job because, on February 14th, 1975, he dropped a very bad idea – accidentally, of course – into the head of a five-year-old boy. Ten years later, that boy caused Armageddon.

From my WIP, THE IDEA GUY.

Anne Dayton said...

"I didn't start out trying to change the world. Originally all I wanted was an oil change."

This was the BRILLIANT first line I wrote to our new novel. My writing partner took it out. Alas. Maybe if it wins here she'll let me put it back in.

David said...

Well, I like it a lot, anne.

Kadi said...

My life changed forever the day Ray Earl got hisself shot on the paintball range of the Back Hills Country Club.

From WIP "Goodbye Ray Earl"

eric said...

Far up on a topmost shelf, behind an old and well-worn first edition of Huntley Mann’s The Fine Art of Miniatures and Doll Craft--long dusty since the tome’s contents had been learned by rote for so many years gone by now--there was concealed a small hole, just the size of a cufflink, precisely chiseled through the back of the bookshelf as if it were no more than perhaps a common knothole.

jjdebenedictis said...

"Help you? I can't even help myself; what am I supposed to do, hide you under my wimple?"

~ fantasy novel, complete

Chiron O'Keefe said...

In a perfect world, every guy would prefer women who wore sweat pants, ate tons of chocolate, and demanded foot rubs while eyeballing Sleepless In Seattle for the zillionth time.

From completed romantic comedy: "Ain't That A Kick."

what'sinyoursoul said...

It's tough, living in the shadow of a dead girl.

Isak said...

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


(from my work in revision)

Paul Jessup said...

They made a home out of Mary's bones, and called it the dancing legs motel.

From WIP

C.J. said...

self promotion disclaimer: i know this is a first line contest, but my first line is puny and cryptic without the rest of the paragraph so...

"She loved the snow. For the tiny pieces of white brought a handle, or rather thousands of tiny handles. Each flake gave presence to the invisible that was already there, but could not be sensed. Riding on her motorcycle in the summer, she could, with effort, believe that she was cutting through the world, everything blurry and unnatural. But this snow, the first of the year, let her see the air separating before her. It allowed her eyes, rather than her mind, to tell her that she was riding in that delicate seam of inexistence. Like tracers hinted at the deadly stream of fellow bullets, so the snow uncloaked the air which was not merely the space between everything, but was comprised of very real and tangible substances: nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and here, in Kiev, Strontium-90 and cesium-137."
(lit. fic.)

Andrew said...

"The gentle leader must not be disturbed."

- The European Sensibilities of Giants (short fiction)

Tammie said...

To look at me, no one would know that the plink-plink-plink sound I was hearing in my head was the sound of that last thread we are often hanging by, splitting apart.

From completed manuscript titled "The Perfect Obit"

DeadlyAccurate said...

Entry #1:

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

--From my short story, "Henry Belfast, Vampire Accountant"

------

Entry #2:

Killing was always just business for me before the prophet murdered my sister.

--Tentative first sentence of as yet unwritten third series book

mkcbunny said...

"The ants were back."


- novel in progress

Niteowl said...

Holding a straw dummy wasn't as fun as one would think; holding one rapidly diminishing under the bludgeoning of an over-testosteroned knight, less so.

From "Bella, Hank and the Gold Dragon", fantasy humour. Yes, that word is spelled with a 'u'.

Dennis R said...

"Who wants to spit in my table's food?"

From the nonfiction manuscript: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Waiting Tables

burgy61 said...

First of all Nathan, I would like to thank you for this challenge. It has been a great exercise in writing opening lines for me. These are the two that I think are my best ones from this weekend. One of them will be the opening to my first attempt at NANOWriMO.

1) Jill Jackson pulled into her driveway and was bewildered by the fog surrounding her home, it quickly became terror as the headless body of her husband emerged from the fog and collapsed on the hood.

2) The night started out like any other night, but when Detective Morris got to the scene of the crime, it became a nightmare.

PS. I hope you don't mind the use of your first name.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Did life perjure itself, or did I?

Niteowl said...

Barkle Throp absently rubbed a gold tooth with his good nail.

From another humour fantasy novel, "Dance Panda, Dance".

Annalee said...

From The Steel Goodbye, a YA novel in progress:

The rope binding Neve Watson's wrists was beginning to chafe. Her corset was laced too tight, and in the hazy heat of the airship's engine room, she imagined she was having trouble breathing.
-------------------

One other entry (my last). This one's from an as-yet-unnamed Science Fiction novel:

Everyone has their story of how they found out Earth had been destroyed: where they were; who they were with; who told them. I was in the brig of the USS Mariner Valley, having been kicked skyside the previous day for failing a health exam.

Ray said...

Just after dark, death grabbed me by the ass.

Christopher M. Park said...

Darrell and his daughter crouched atop the hillock a half mile downstream from their riverside villa, watching as the gray men destroyed the only home their family had ever had.

From my work in progress, ALDEN RIDGE.

David de Beer said...

'I will sail to Heaven and steal the voice of God,' Sam Graves said.

Scott said...

Rüdiger stood on the broken outer wall of Streitberg castle, plucked a hair from his nose, rubbed it between his finger and thumb, then flicked it away and wiped his hand on his round belly. This siege had gone on long enough.

Linnea said...

Scott, this sounds like an openeing line for a period novel. Hope you're writing one. Love historicals!

Betsy said...

My family used to be bridge keepers, until that vicious billy goat incident when my great-grandfather drowned in the river.

serenity said...

I already have so many favorites here. I can't wait to vote. Here is my entry:

She didn't even know she needed rescued.

Niteowl said...

The bomb had a very nice display: green and black with a thin blue border; Hayden couldn't be sure, alien languages were indecipherable, by definition, but he assumed it was counting down to a messy, very fatal explosion.

From "Hayden Smith : Sardonic Space Cowboy" unfinished humourous sci-fi.

Katie said...

She slipped into the kitchen, only to be halted by the sight of a huge claymore casually leaning against the dishwasher.

Jess said...

A first line I've had floating in my head for a while:

"The two biggest traumas in my life were caused by men: when I was eleven-years-old and Andy Rickerson pushed me out of the tree, and my leg broke, and ten years later when Andy's cousin Ryan got me pregnant and left without a goodbye, giving birth to my daughter, Lolly. Lolly is two now, but the pain is still fresh."

JaxPop said...

Knowing that he was about to die, just three weeks shy of turning sixteen, really sucked, and staring into the gaping jaws of the lunging shark less than a yard away, guaranteed that death would be terrifyingly painful.

From Completed YA - The SunCatchers

Dr. Dume said...

'The rush of air ended when Joseph Blackthorn hit the ground.'

WIP: I suspect it's going to be a horror story ;)

Anonymous said...

I have a hard wife who demands much of me, and although we've been divorced for many years she wants more. As though I had a kingdom of sheep and goats to offer.

sharon said...

Vera regained consciousness to find she was lying naked on the dirt floor of a cavernous pit.

Mystery - 89k

Thank you.

dramabird said...

The gates of the Emerald City were rotting.

-- The Campus, a completed thriller.

Derek said...

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

Stephen Parrish said...

How to Finish a Thought: For People Who

was a winner in Nathan's best title contest. Its first line is:

Being able to finish a thought is a useful skill for people who

Ello said...

This is awesome!

That is not a first line - I'm just saying - all these first lines were so much fun to read. I already have a favorite (not mine) that I'm rooting for. When do we vote?!!

Thanks Nathan for running this contest. You are "Da Man!"

dr. love said...

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.

Dave said...

From a WIP with the working title "Bluetooth" -

Traffic patrol found the candy-apple red, $250,000 extravaganza of convertible hardtop sedan smashed into a tree – no skid marks, a broken guardrail, hood crushed, four-way hazard lights blinking, doors open and a dead body nearby.

W-E-H said...

Please fix typo---

Arlo shivered and leaned precariously into the urinal as the smells of coffee, penicillin and bad choices wafted up to fill his nostrils.

David L. McAfee said...

My death was never reported to the police.

Anonymous said...

“She’s never coming back.”

Christine, Maryland

Melanie Avila said...

Looking out over the ramshackle homes in our neighborhood - tin roofs, crumbling walls, bare-skinned children playing in the dirt - a familiar question comes to mind: What the hell am I doing in Mexico?

memoir wip- Caught: An American's Tale of Illegal Immigration

twizzle said...

#1
Scott did exactly what every smart boyfriend should do: He lied.


#2
About twice a week, my mom would call me on her cell phone to tell me I had a Yogi on my front lawn.

Tricia Grissom said...

It was just like any other family gathering, except it was the first with all of us dead.

onovello said...

My second:

William Moore wrapped his head in foil for the first time when he was four.

Melanie Avila said...

Sorry for the repeat entry - I just created an account. - Melanie

Looking out over the ramshackle homes in our neighborhood - tin roofs, crumbling walls, bare-skinned children playing in the dirt - a familiar question comes to mind: What the hell am I doing in Mexico?

memoir wip - Caught: An American' Tale of Illegal Immigration

Church Lady said...

"I, Steven Morgan Carter, being able to read and write, would like to give my stuff away if I die."

From my completed MG which I'm querying now.

This is entry 2.

Thanks

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

"Motherfucker."


Yeah, that'd be Trevor speaking.

Church Lady said...

"I shuffled my feet and kept my head lowered. She was right. Look at me."

Entry 3

Thanks!

Susan Sundwall said...

My name isn't Ishmael, but it should be.

Church Lady said...

"Normally you wouldn't keep secrets if you're on a plane making an emergency landing into the ocean. But I'm not normal."

Entry 4

Thanks

Spartezda said...

This was the last time I let a wyvern talk me into anything.

Reid said...

Jack had never been at gunpoint before. It wasn’t nearly as romantic as it seemed in the movies.

From "The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape

Scott said...

Hi Linnea--yes, it's a historical. It'll be a while before before it'll really start to take shape. I'm focusing on finishing up two other projects. But I have the first couple chapters, and get to this one whenever I have a chance.

Enough networking--back to the contest. :)

Anonymous said...

Yo Jess-- you've got a dangling modifier ("giving birth to my daughter") in your 1st sentence, which makes it sound as if Andy's cousin Ryan is the one giving birth.

Hélène Boudreau said...

Twenty-five feet: that's how far I can walk before running out of oxygen tubing.

Marti said...

My father’s voice whispered in my ear, "A single moment". I nearly wet my pants.

From River of Possibilities, a paranormal mystery novel.

PS: Thanks for allowing more than one entry :-)

Church Lady said...

"My husband stood in the driveway waving his arms around as if blaming me for the kitten stuck in the tree, so I took the gun out of my handbag and shot the furry problem out of the tree and then pointed the gun at my arm-waving husband and smiled. I would be solving lots of problems today."

This is not from any work in progress. I just prefer puppies is all.

:-)

Other Lisa said...

Another day on the Gold Farm begins.

Liz Wolfe said...

To my credit, when I received the letter informing me I’d been named in Nicholas Moulsen’s will, my first reaction was an incredible sadness at his passing.

Steve Axelrod said...

I have two:
#1
"On a November night three weeks before he was murdered, Preston Lomax was making a list of all the people who wanted to kill him."

#2
"Rachel Scanlon stood on the corner of Broadway and 94th Street, without a single key in her pocket."

Heidi the Hick said...

Jenny is totally wasted, sprawled on the hood of the Caprice, blinking at the big black sparkling sky spinning above her.

Deborah K. White said...

The throne of Norida had remained empty for twelve years.

wolf said...

My first line entry:

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

Curtastrophe said...

Mortimer McGurney arose from the comfort of his mahogany platform bed wiping sleep from his eyes and looking around with the kind of dazed awareness familiar to those having experienced an all night binge of drinking what is considered technically, a lethal poison.

cw said...

On the north end of Main Street storefronts subside into empty lots where ghosts of private detectives watch the city on eternal stakeout.

Loquacious Me said...

The sound of metal clashing against something unnatural echoed through the stately trees, ancient witnesses to the battle of life and death going on beneath them.

~urban fantasy in progress

Julie Rowe said...

“Who let that clown in here?”

From a medical romance entitled "Prescription: Marriage"

Cheers, Julie Rowe

Adnohr Yak said...

The End. Silence replaced the distant screams.

This is the first line of a book I am writing. Obviously, not a self-help book. :)

Dave Wood said...

First entry:

Don't trust November.

"Where None Embrace", completed literary/mystery novel.


Second entry:

This is a love story, told at the ending of the world.

"An End to Mown Grass", SF Novella in progress.

2readornot said...

The visions began the night Operation Pied Piper went into play, as if the growing threat to my home awakened the ability.

Historical Fantasy (YA)

Reid said...

My first thought was, "There's so much blood." Actually, that's not true, that's just something I've always heard people usually say in this situation. Really, my first thought was, "What the fuck?"

From "How To Kill A Consultant"

John Levitt said...

You never really get used to dead people.
-- Carnivores

Tammie said...

Entry #2

Does it mean anything that the Playboy Headquarters is right next to the Knickerbocker Hotel where I am to celebrate my wedding reception?

WIP: Mara and James

Linda D. (sbk) said...

"Dad was taking too long. Colton wiped his nose on his sleeve, snorted and glanced out the window to see if Dad had arrived in the last twenty seconds."

MG paranormal thriller

Topher1961 said...

I'm resigned to being the brother of a martyr.

From my novel, Samuel's Dream

Anonymous said...

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.

P.S. Thanks Nathan.

Gerri said...

The Seasons of the Gods are not the seasons of man. While Winter still reigns, the hearts and spirits of mankind are darkened as they huddle together against the Cold that permeates all, gathering around the hearth fires and daring little beyond their walls.

From my PiP (Project in Progress).

SurlyJason said...

Of all the primordial elements, only fire obeys the whim of time.

Words In Words Out said...

She’s missing. It’s what the papers say.

From my WIP "Ripples"

No one needed the confirmation.
On it’s own, a hand moved to her neck, grazed the soft skin it found there with fingers longing for violent touch.

Thanks Nathan! Some awesome first lines here guys!


She didn’t want to remember the toe tag. The way it sat still on gray skin in the chilled air. The smell of the room had reminded her of senior year in biology. She’d been against dissecting the fetal pigs at first. Abortion had never appealed to her. But in the end she cracked open the skull, scraped out and identified the parts of the brain for extra credit.

A little long, but from my WIP "Home Fires"

Marlene Dotterer said...

Entry from Time Journal #1 of Sam Altair:

From my science fiction/alternate history "Dunallon"

Thanks Nathan! I just found your blog!

Michele Lee said...

Amy had been dead for four days when I met her at the facility.

Marlene Dotterer said...

Grabbing the pole of the bed halfway to falling out of it, Alex Stafford woke up ready to run.

From the current WIP, that has lots of titles but none I like.

Anonymous said...

A number of these sentences need an editor.

urbansherpa said...

Okay... first to dennis r = ew!!

to Susan Sundwell = LOL!!

to Nathan -- as for voting, I haven't tried it yet, but you can add a POLL element to your blog which would probably facilitate voting once you have the finalists narrowed down.

Vivi Anna said...

When the blade slid in between my second and third rib, I didn’t feel it. At least, not at first.


From my WIP A Midnight Dreary...

Cool contest!

Anonymous said...

Nathan,

I'm not sure blog readers should be voting. What's to keep people from voting multiple times?

Am I saying I don't trust people? Maybe I don't trust myself. After all, the prize is a good one.

Stephanie Zvan said...

#1 Dr. Richardson knew he was spending too much time with the dead girl.

#2 Once, not so very long ago, Mother Chen was a plump, busy, happy woman with three sons.

From a couple of short pieces. I'm not usually a strong first line person (I prefer to build to the end of the first paragraph), but these made me happy.

J. M. Sabel said...

Dair Curator had lost count of the number of women he'd slept with.

Josephine Damian said...

So far, I've got 8 stand outs, first lines that, were I to pick up that book in a store, I'd read on.

Nathan, more than anything else this has been an incredible learning experience for me; by asking myself exactly why these 8 lines worked, and why the others didn't. More important, how can I apply what I discovered to my own work?

Marti, I want to give some homage to your first line by saying: "There are days when everything goes right, and then there are days when the nitwits in your writer's group make you wanna bang your head against the wall."

From nonfiction WIP- "7 Ways You Screw Up Your Life by Joining a Writer's Group."

Myrna de Vera said...

A wail of death --- her earliest memory.

Becca said...

"Ignoring the stewardesses' urgent instructions, Stanford Clark dropped his book, grabbed his keys, and headed into the bathroom."

Aden Albert said...

The Sunday sun sinks low in the sky and the time has come.

-- from my novel, "A Life of Fire"

Topaz said...

#1
He held my beating heart in the palm of his hand and laughed at the weapon he had just acquired: me.

#2
Jessie tried on his human skin and found it had gotten far too small.

Gabriele C. said...

Sorry, some typo demon infected my previous entry.

Here's the first lines of three losely connected novels-in-progress about the Romans in Germania and Britannia.

A Land Unconquered
Rome celebrated.

Eagle of the Sea
"I wonder what those Germans are up to."

Caledonia Defiant
Cailtharn stood amidst the carnage.

joycemocha said...

“I. Have. Had. It.” Bess Fielding slammed her hands on the desk and got up, tapping her fingers to shut down the hologlobe.

Fred said...

When God falls asleep at the wheel something bad is bound to happen.

joycemocha said...

Jenny stared at the card from the plain gray envelope she’d just opened. It bore the image of a flying saucer that had landed in a desert setting, with a cuteish, gray-skinned, bug-eyed alien waving in a friendly manner in the foreground.

--from a short story that recently earned me an enraged rejection. I think that story pushes some buttons...

joycemocha said...

The ritual was one of Rekare's memories, a part of her life entwined so deeply with the complex fabric of the twelve years of her life that she couldn't remember a time when the hot, intense, end of summer did not contain it.

--from a fantasy novel in progress, and this is my last one. I promise.

Chumplet said...

Zigor leaned against a shop wall on Carrer de Montcada and watched the frenetic activity outside the Picasso Museum.

--The Weeping Woman, a WIP (but the first three chapters are done! Hint, hint...)

eric hill said...

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 my novel 'DISCONTENT'
Thanks & Cheers!
Eric / email: adibat@mac.com

Chumplet said...

Here's my other one:

The first thing Rebecca remembered about Spain was the guitar music – not the strident guitar licks of post-Vietnam War rock, but dulcet flamenco notes which crept into her psyche with soothing, exotic sweetness.

Anonymous said...

At the very least, I think that if bloggers are allowed to vote, no one should be able to vote for themselves.

Lupina said...

The whole mess could have been totally avoided, Alice Miggleton would later muse coldly, if only Bootsie had for gawdsake been able to leave the damned dead thing alone.

Dr. Dume said...

You can have more than one go? Okay, here's another..

'Everyone likes to imagine that they will utter some final words of profound wisdom when Death comes to claim them, but when it came for Victor Murillo, the best he could manage was ‘Oh, bugger’.'

Victor's Will, after ditching the boring stuff at the start of the first version...

Anonymous said...

If I were Italian I'd be 90% more interesting. I guess if I were half Italian I'd be 45% more interesting, which isn't bad. Since I'm not, I should at least be able to go to Italy, where I could eat some excellent Fettuccini Alfredo and antipasti. I mean, is that really so much to ask?

YA novel

AudreyT said...

It's not that I don't believe in miracles; I just don't have time to wait in line.

(Chick Lit WIP)

Helen said...

"You're going straight to hell listening to that music" my mother screamed,pounding on my bedroom door as I was groovin to Billie Holiday
singing "Strange Fruit". This is Hell and my mother is the Devil.

From my YA novel: STRANGE FRUIT

Thanks- Bags of Fun
email: he.art@tmo.blackberry.net

Josephine Damian said...

Anonymous 5:57 PM, I'm with you! I say: NO voting for yourself! But I guess we gotta wait for "The Hills" to be over before we hear back from N8.

I've got it narrowed down now to a first choice, and two runner ups (runners up? runner uppers? well, you know what I mean). First, second, and third.

JoZ

A Paperback Writer said...

Wow. Some of these are REALLY good.
Okay, here's mine that falls totally within the range of the guidelines:

I guessed what he was as soon as I saw his eyes.

from a short story called "Last Night at Blackwell's" -- about a vampire, of course

monica said...

The rhythmic pounding of hooves beat through the hot air of the gray Tuscan dawn.

From my Historical novel:
THE GENERAL'S SON

A Paperback Writer said...

And since cj cheated and used a whole paragraph because of short sentences, I'm going to try this one, even though I will fully understand, Nathan, if you disqualify it:

Escalante, Utah. July. About 105 in the shade. You have to buy ice cream cones in cups if you want to eat the stuff before it runs all over your hand. You have to carry a bottle of water with you just to walk a block. You sweat through an average of three shirts per day -- even with the air conditioning going full blast.
Really, it’s no place for a half-vampire who passes out in bright sunlight.


It's from my second half-vampire YA novel, a completed manuscript.

JaxPop said...

I agree w/ Anonymous about voting for our own stuff. Personal taste will also play a big part in the voting (EX: SciFi writer may not care for YA, etc). For me, I think I'll pass on the voting altogether but the SUFLC has been a blast - Thanks Nathan & all participants! (There's some good stuff goin' on out there!)Y'all are awesome.

Anne-Marie said...

Great contest, Nathan!


“It’s called Tofurkey.”

Anonymous said...

"Bright Gods, free me of this geas!"

From my fantasy novel.

adrianne@indra.com

James Hutchinson said...

My name is Hart. I am a Gentleman of Science; a modest and patient man who has put his trust in logic.

From my Victorian sci-fi novel "The Augmented Geologist"

David said...

I was right: Nathan is getting swamped. So, er, I'm going to add to the swamping with a second (and last! really!) entry. My first, waaaay up there at the beginning, is the first line of a time-travel novel. This one is the first line of a short story:

Diana was waiting for Carpenter when he returned to his office after witnessing her killer's execution.

eric hill said...

The sidewalk pulsed with Desire
as I saw a bodega swarmed with people from two to eighty, men playing dominoes drinking sodas and beers, cigarettes hanging from pouted defiant lips while teens selling illegal contraband blasting loud salsa and 'marengi' mingled with sweating men in undershirts flirting with the ever smiling Chiquita's in shorts revealing beautiful legs and curvaceous rear-ends,idling about the wooden carts selling hand shaved ices flavored with syrups poured from reused rum bottles into cardboard cups.

First Line of second chapter: DISCONTENT

Thank You -
Eric / email: adibat@mac.com

M.O. said...

"Several murders occurred simultaneously."

Nathan Bransford said...

On the matter of voting -- I haven't yet decided how it's going to work, but I'm leaning towards a poll that includes the finalists with the ability to do a write-in vote. Yes, people would be able to vote multiple times, but I'm hoping both the honor system and the number of non-participants who vote will outweigh any overzealousness on the part of the nominees.

Jacey said...

An ice cold ball of trepidation rolled down Lydia Wilson's spine as she waited her turn in the security line at the airport.

Ello said...

#2

The funky malodor of men ripe from combat was married with moans, groans and the steady sound of grinding teeth.

I'll stop at 2 submissions! Thanks again!

green ray said...

THE BOOK OF MIRACLES
A novel by Green Ray

If I'm still alive when I finish telling this tale, it'll be a miracle.

Jordyn said...

Line #1 - Until I was fourteen or so, I always wondered how it got decided that one sister was the pretty one while the other was stuck being labeled 'smart' or 'responsible'. Because as far back as I could remember, Caris had always been adorable.
(YA)

Line #2 - I used to have a lot of perfect moments.
(YA)

Line #3 - Running to the nearest restroom and barfing: how I reacted when, upon meeting my older brother at the airport after he'd spent over a year studying abroad, he introduced me to his fiance.
(YA)

Cavan said...

Hard urban rain turned the city into a mass of glistening edges and right angles.

Ryshia said...

No man deserves to die but more importantly, no man deserves to die without his head – for one, it’s unsightly, for two, it’s just wrong.

Kate H said...

I knew her, of course, the first time she came to the house; one of the advantages of being dead is the ability to see beneath the surface.

JAMR said...

Damned non-fiction -- Dita bet if they’d chosen a maudlin novel off of Oprah’s list, as they had every month in the three years they’d been meeting, their discussion never would have turned to murder.

Anonymous said...

There was something decidedly eerie about being absolutely alone in the wilderness.

Anonymous said...

The fragile cup slipped from her fingers and hit the floor, shattering in a spray of ivory, rose and old gold.

Jengt said...

I love writing contests!

"Redd looked down at the motionless person lying at his feet. The face was unrecognizable, swollen and bloodier than Redd’s hands."

From my YA novel, The Willow and the Wrath.

DeadlyAccurate said...

OK, this one's two sentences, but I liked it and spent far longer than I should have crafting it. So I'm gonna post it even if it's disqualified.

Entry #3:

A good pickpocket always takes care to select the right mark. That I'm tied ankles-up to a ceiling joist while Dino Graziano's goons work me over tells you exactly how good I am.

Merry Jelinek said...

"What do you think he's done now?" Jared asked in a low whisper.

From my middle grade WIP

Hats off to all of the entrants, and thanks for the fun contest, Nathan.

alicats said...

After three excellent lifetimes, Cullen Kearney, fourth son of King Eadbard Donal of Arin, was returning to the misery-inducing plane of existence he’d succeeded in avoiding for two hundred years – home.

From Fantasy Short - Prince of Arin
WIP

McKoala said...

Dervla Tillman threw herself off the balcony of the penthouse while I was at work today and although her body was gone by the time I returned I could track her fall past the bougainvillea-decorated balconies of the building by the colours of the flowers scattered across the grass below.

JDuncan said...

#1: Death wormed its way into my dreams often enough, but a sandpaper-lined coffin with its own pay phone was new.

From, Deadworld, completed paranormal suspense novel.

#2: Wrath of God had been Mac Duquene's first thought when ten days of torrential rain began to flood the streets of downtown San Antonio, but it was the limbless torso that turned and tumbled by him in the muddy, garbage-filled waters that had him thinking it might be the wrath of something else entirely.

From, The Bare Dirty, wip.

Amanda Capel said...

So I've been thinking of growing a backbone.

WIP: OUT OF FOCUS

K.R.Stewart said...

“So I say again, it was no accident. They murdered my boy. We killed them for it. Justice is done.”

-From WIP "Omn's Tears"

John Caruso said...

John said...

Lucifer stared into the blizzard cloud, rocked in the gale like a sleeper in thrall to the white roar of a dream.

1st line from my dark, literary fantasy novel, Lightbearer.

Elayne said...

"They stood around the grave -- watching as the polished mahogany casket disappeared into the ground."
~From completed novel, Two Down, One to Go (Romantic suspense)

"No, no, no. Selma sprang out of bed, clad only in her underpants and fishnet stockings."
~From Untitled WIP (Romantic suspense)

Neat contest. Thanks for the opportunity, Nathan.

M. Alexander Austin said...

I came awake after a thousand years entombed to the smell of blood, brimstone, pungent herbs, the blood of a probably-virgin sacrifice, and the monotonous droning of a power-hungry lich, or mage, or conjurer, or overlord – whatever the fuck this one was calling himself.

From a one of the (many) books I've started to write, this one tentatively titled: "A Magical Sword and an Evil Overlord."

ScaramoucheX said...

opI smoked a jazz cigarette that night, and sat in the old-time Proustian chair, that which propelled him "beyond space and time"; soon I was shooting racoons blue in the night, to the bark of dogs.

ScaramoucheX said...

There, the three cats are moving around and around, re-positioning themselves, and striking provocative attitudes, all in nifty trinangulation.

reality said...

Ever heard of a brothel that offers no sex, never has and never shall, they say. Nonsense, it's like being in the rain and saying you won't get wet.

Ozal said...

From a futuristic WIP-

When they came, I wasn’t ready.


I so want to put in the next paragraph. NO! I resist!

Bernita said...

After reading all these brilliant examples, an entry pro forma.

I was standing there naked when a dead man sauntered into my bathroom. Sauntered - not shambled. That was the second frightening thing.

From a WIP A Malignity of Ghosts, - urban fantasy.

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.

From a short story Soul Stone .

From Come to Dust .
I hoped the legends were right - that this time, surely, he would stay dead.

Nancy Fulda said...

Aw, sure, I'll play:

Adam showed up on my doorstep two years after he killed my father.

Monica said...

He was the forty-second President of the United States, and he wanted what every hard and horny man wants; I was an intern, and I did what I had to do.

(Memoir)

Anonymous said...

A moody wet wind tore against the brick walls outside as he crept down the stairway, brushing a cobweb from his face.

M. K. Stelmack said...

If you think dying is hard, try coming back to life.

K.C. Shaw said...

Okay, I'll post a second one--but that's all, I promise. Here it is:

My hooves tapped on the flagstones as I approached the castle's open double doors.

Susan Sundwall said...

Bartlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but what could you expect from a girl named after a pear.
=)

ER3 said...

The truth of Day Biggs' death came to him in the form of a balloon the color of an olive drab oil slick.

From "The 10th Gate" - WIP, YA Fantasy

Southern Writer said...

WOO HOO Eric at 10:14 am and Tammie at 12:07. Need I say you'll have my vote?

Here's my entry:

I am lying on a padded table, soaked with sweat, shivering so violently it must appear that I’m having a seizure.

From an untitled short article.

This is a great exercise, Nathan, one that makes me realize I need to work on my opening lines!

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