SUFLC Update #2

by | Sep 12, 2007 | Contests | 54 comments

Well now.

We are fast approaching 450 entries between blogger and Myspace (or roughly three times the number I was anticipating), but I am undeterred! I am ready! I am prepared! Mostly!

And despite one half of the stupendously ultimate organizational committee of two getting cold feet and claiming that she had, um, this “thing” tonight (I’m not naming names but it was Anne Dayton), I have successfully bribed Anne back into the fold and tonight we will decide on the finalists. Please show your appreciation to Anne by visiting Good Girl Lit, buying her very wonderful novel THE BOOK OF JANE and sending her bizarre apocalyptic religious paraphernalia. She’ll love it.

Also many thanks go out to the divine Miss Snark for stopping by and mocking my task ahead. Your schadenfreude brought a nostalgic tear to my eye.

Now for the update: this evening Anne and I are going to decide on a slate of finalists (probably 5-10, but that will be determined tonight), and tomorrow’s post will include an electronic voting widget thing so you can decide on the ultimate winner (with one write-in vote available to those who have a blogger account or have posted on this blog with a non-blogger username in the past — no anonymous write-ins!). While the system will not allow unlimited voting, I am going to rely on the good nature of the finalists to follow the honor system and not try and pull any electronic funny stuff — frankly, if there is cheating on a for-fun contest on a semi-frequented blog I might just lose faith in humanity altogether. MY OPTIMISM ABOUT THE WORLD IS HANGING IN THE BALANCE!

But still, I will also be monitoring any irregular activity and the best way to ensure fairness in the voting system is if everyone votes and encourages others on the Internet to do so: one time, fairly, and honestly. Oh, and if everyone also says who they voted for and why in the comments section of tomorrow’s post we will get a clearer picture if someone is getting a suspiciously disproportionate share of the vote.

Please enter the Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge if you haven’t already, and don’t forget to check out both Myspace and Blogger for the full list of entries!

Best of luck to everyone. But especially to me and Anne. We’re going to need it.


  1. Words In Words Out

    We’re pulling for you guys, and not just in a completely self serving kind of way ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Josephine Damian

    Myspace too? Jeesh!

    I’m still voting for Conduit, but I’ll still check out the others over there. Overall, this has been a terrific learning experience.

    What? No anonymous voting!

    Thank God. Cheaters suck. And voting for yourself is tacky! JMHO ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nathan, I’d be more than willing to be an alternate judge in case Ann tries to bail out on you again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. burgy61

    Good luck with the huge task that you are undertaking tonight. I have a feeling your going to need it.

  4. DeadlyAccurate

    In the comments section during the voting, do you mind if we also mention a few alternates we would’ve voted for?

  5. Nathan Bransford


    Absolutely — showering praise on all of the nominees (and other entrants) will be highly encouraged.

  6. Janel

    To Katherine Shoe the road appeared a fearsome blur on the face of the world as the storm raged and the rain pounded the pain of glass before her.

  7. Marti

    Do we get to say nasty things about the ones with spelling and/or grammar errors?

    (Sorry I think I was possessed by the spirit of Miss Snark there for a moment)


    Best wishes to everyone!

  8. Janel

    Thanks Marti, I just realized that and started banging my head against the wall! PANE!

  9. Tammie

    OMG now I have to run over to Myspace – this is too much fun!

  10. Precie

    A mere 50+ entries via MySpace! HA! I guess we know where all the really cool, smart writers hang out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. julief

    Wow wowzer! I don’t envy you and Anne, Nathan. There’s a terrifically obscene amount of entries AND tons of good ones.

    I wonder how many you’ll end up with? and how long it will take to get through it all?

    Although, I’d rather be doing that than going to work tonight…

  12. original bran fan

    Nathan and Anne, I am uploading virtual coffee to you!

  13. Heather Wardell

    You’re brave to allow write-in voting. And way better to us than we deserve to be doing this at all.

    I second the virtual coffee, and may I suggest a shot of something a bit stronger as well? For your nerves, you understand.

  14. Anonymous

    Is it really bad to vote for yourself? Or does it just look bad? Any guidelines, Nathan, on voting for ourselves?

  15. Welshcake

    Hey Nathan, now you’ve been visited by the Spirit of Snark, are you going to do a Christmas crapometer?


  16. jjdebenedictis

    You are a sleek beast of chrome machismo.

    You are a golden dirigible of benevolence, aloft in the sunshine.

    You are the gleam on the jellyfish armoir, the bounce in the basketball, the fire-breathing doooooom of rhetorical questions.

    You are a confection of jewel-eyed, velvet-skinned magnificence.

    You are a white-bricked tower aglow with intellect.

    You are a crispy-fried nugget of tastebud-wooing delectitude, sizzling in your own yumminess.

    In other words, thank you both. We deeply appreciate both your willingness to do this and all the work involved. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Nathan Bransford


    Voting for yourself is up to the conscience of the voter! Although voting for yourself more than once is strictly prohibited.

    And please please please remember to post first lines in the official SUFLC thread. We will not be checking the other threads for entries.

  18. Bernita

    Don’t think I can vote.
    There are just too many of equal merit.

  19. Precie

    Nathan and Anne–Best of luck! And tremendous thanks to you brave souls for taking this on. Oy. I don’t know that I’ll be able to vote either…I guess we’ll just have to see what the short list holds.

  20. Niteowl

    In an effort to counter-act any funny business, I shall vote for none at all. Especially my own.

    Many thanks to Nathon and Anne for making a decision that will prove unpopular to everyone except one.

    PS for the sake of your sanity, please have a shorter window of submission. Free contests where writers are finally judged to see if they ‘have it’ by professionals can reach a blood in the water shark frenzy like pitch.

  21. Ello

    Vote for me! Vote for me! I’ll wash your car! I’ll iron your shirts!

    Hey Nathan! I’m not going to vote for myself but you didn’t say anything against campaigning, right? Besides, Conduit has his own cheering squad so I must toot my own horn! ;o) Nah, I already know my meager efforts have been blown away by alot of these entries. I am just looking forward to seeing who reaches the semi-finals.

    By the way, I was the first one to predict over 400 and under 500. I’m thinking it won’t go over 450.

    Good luck tonight! And good luck everyone else.

  22. Josephine Damian

    Ello, I’m curious to see how different my own fave list is from Nathan’s. My guess the funnier ones have an edge with our contest host. But we’ll see.

    I am still grinning over Nuk Nuk, the gay Eskimo. But my # 1 choice stays the same:

    Shake my booty, yeah!

  23. Phoenix

    Ooh, nightowl, this is scary, if true:

    writers are finally judged to see if they ‘have it’

    Judged on one sentence? Five words submitted by some? 450+ submissions, and only one winner?

    Maybe some people are taking this contest w-a-a-y-y too seriously if they think their worth as a writer rides on the outcome. A good headline writer could likely blow everyone out of the water based on one line. But does that mean they have the talent to sustain story, characters, and plot through 70,000+ words?

    True, it’s a generous prize. So are lottery winnings. Please keep it in perspective and just have fun with the contest. I did. *wink*

  24. Conduit

    Josephine, the cash is in the mail. You’ve earned it.

    Ello – I don’t know, I reckon we could still hit 500.

    Pheonix, I agree totally with you. Of all my completed pieces (two novels and various short stories) only a just begun WIP had a first line worthy of entering in this, but that is no indication of the quality, or otherwise, of those other pieces. What I think might be really interesting would be to see the sunsequent sentences for the shortlisted entries, so we can get some idea of where they go from there, and how the one-liners sit in context.

    Or maybe that’s going beyond the remit of this particular contest. Just a thought.

  25. otherkatie

    Is anybody else already working on an acceptance speech? I am. Accepting this award will be more fun than my own funeral was. Get it? I’m dead! Dead as a doornail and accepting a writing award.

    And Conduit? I got two words for you and your dirty palms: just bring it.

  26. Nathan Bransford

    We’re very close to 500 — don’t forget about Myspace!

  27. Scott

    Gotta admit, I miss being able to tell you something today. I wike waxing wise on Wednesday. But then, the whole past week has been one giant You Tell Me, with the best yet to come. Besides, you’ve made yourself too busy to listen to whatever We Tell You today.

    Good luck. I look forward to voting and expounding upon my favorite.

  28. Ello

    I just went through everything and I actually came out with a list of favorites. I’m posting my favorites on my blog so I don’t subconsciously sway Nathan. So if anyone wants to come and tell me who your favorites are, please come by! (Josephine Damian, please come by and let me know your list!) Given how subjective this all is, I’m dying to see what people’s favorites are and how we will match up to Nathan’s!

  29. Anonymous

    I already have my fav. I keep coming back to it. Sadly, it is not my own.

  30. Anonymous

    ello said: I just went through everything and I actually came out with a list of favorites. I’m posting my favorites on my blog…

    I was planning to do the same thing. I have over two dozen I liked for some reason or another that I wanted to give mention to. Once the contest closes I’ll go through the MySpace posts and the remainder and see whatever else catches my attention.

  31. Kadi Easley

    Thanks in advance for the work ahead of you and Anne tonight. The entries have been a ball to read. Of course, I don’t have to cull the herd, I can just enjoy.

    Thanks again.

  32. Josephine Damian

    King Conduit: When you go it, you got it; the rest of us just look up in awe.

    Ello: OMG! I’m doing the exact same thing! Getting my list together to post on my own blog…. but how long until Nate keeps the flood gates open? What if more comes in? I’ve got quite a list of semi-finalists, and some honorable mentions. Still gotta hit myspace yet – slim pickins’ there.

    I will announce here when I get my own list posted…. then I’ll stop by Ello’s and say: Hello.

  33. Gabriele C.

    Hi Scott,
    I just wanted to tell you that your entry made me look up your website. I now want to read Loom of Fate, and I totally want to travel to Nรผrnberg again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Josephine Damian

    Anon 4:24 – I have about a dozen finalists, plus another dozen semi-finalists (and this includes the myspacers – some good ones there from “AuthorChrys.”) So, about the same as you.

    But Conduit is still my King, with Lafreya a strong contender for my Queen.

    Go Lafreya, go!
    Go Lafreya, go!

    Ello, how many do you have? I don’t dare look till after I post my own list with a brief critique of each one.

  35. JaxPop

    This is impossible – The first problem is – I live in Florida – you know how voting works down here. Didn’t even get the SUFLC Update #2 ’til after 6PM today – already suspect ‘rigging’. Geez, too many great lines, to pick from. Good Luck to everyone, ‘specially Nathan & Ann – lots of work ahead. This was a blast. Thanks.

  36. Nathan Bransford

    Ok, I called time on the contest. Let the speculation begin!

  37. Chumplet

    You poor, poor man.

  38. The Amused Lurker

    I started off only wanting to make a list of 10 but it was impossible… So here is a speculative guess of who will make the final cut. (In order that they appeared.)

    1.)Artists are not crazy…. said…
    “Nuk Nuk was the only gay Eskimo in his tribe.”

    2.)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?

    3.)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.

    4.)dramabird said…
    The gates of the Emerald City were rotting

    5.)Susan Sundwall said…
    My name isn’t Ishmael, but it should be.

    6.)Topher1961 said…
    I’m resigned to being the brother of a martyr.From my novel, Samuel’s Dream

    7.)Chumplet said…
    Here’s my other one:The first thing Rebecca remembered about Spain was the guitar music โ€“ not the strident guitar licks of post-Vietnam War rock, but dulcet flamenco notes which crept into her psyche with soothing, exotic sweetness.

    8.)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.

    9.)Ryshia said…
    No man deserves to die but more importantly, no man deserves to die without his head โ€“ for one, itโ€™s unsightly, for two, itโ€™s just wrong.

    10.)James Bailey said…
    I had a professor my junior year in college who told us that one day we’d each wake up and realize we hated our lives, and that this knowledge would set us free. From my novel, THE GREATEST SHOW ON DIRT.

    11.)trenchgold said…
    The sky was a sloppy Picasso.

    12.)Lupina said…
    The shadow man lay dreaming, snoozing in the eternal haze that had become his home, when
    the smell of his universe suddenly changed.

    13.)GarrettMarco said…
    The greatest adventure in life is death, just as the climax of a story is the most exhilarating and gratifying, it is in our final hours that the truth of our existence is told in its entirety.
    September 12, 2007 12:37 AM

    14.)LitWitch said…
    I had two bodies growing up: one was light and soft and melodramatic, the other was hot and juicy and delicious. They were called Love and Sex, and both were named Jean.

    15.)Curtastrophe said…
    Nadine opened the book and read the first sentence aloud, “To the man or woman reading this I must caution you, the following sentence will change your life in a profound way.”

  39. Josephine Damian

    OK. I’ve posted my list of winners at
    Included is a critique of each of the chosen (not so) few.

    Amused Lurker: We only have three in common (ok, I had two more from your list that I was iffy on). Interesting.

    Jaxpop: My fellow frazzled Floridian, you are preaching to the choir.

    Nathan: How’s it going? Can you spell “eye-strain”? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Conduit all the way!

  40. Anne-Marie

    Nathan and Anne, thanks so much for doing this- what a fun idea!

    Good luck to everyone!

  41. Danielle

    Police Chief Knox stared into the fresh deep hole at the old gravesite and his gut churned like he’d pounded a can of Crisco.

  42. Danielle

    Aack! I didn’t read all the comments. Now I missed the time cut off. (Sob)

  43. Scott

    Thanks, Gabriele C.!

    You made my evening with your nice words.


  44. isak

    jaxpop & josephine:

    As a Floridian myself, I think I trust this voting system more than the electoral one down here.

  45. Josephine Damian

    isak: You got that right! And now they’re messing up our primary! Aaaargh!

    Best of luck to all the contenders!

    Conduit and Lafreya.
    Conduit and Lafreya.
    Conduit and Lafreya.
    I’m gonna shake and shimmy!
    Conduit and Lafreya.
    Conduit and Lafreya.

  46. James Bailey

    Amused Lurker, thanks for including mine on your list. Of course, Nathan already rejected my query, so perhaps my odds are long … unless he’s rejected queries from everyone else who entered. Raise your hand if your first line came from a manuscript he’s passed on.

  47. Anonymous

    We wait with bated breath.

  48. Words In Words Out

    Josephine Damian: Thanks so much for the mention!! Guess you’ll have to wait to see if the papers were wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

  49. Lafreya

    wow!! Thank you so very much josephine damian,especially for the mention on your blog.

  50. onovello

    Josephine —

    Wow! Thanks for adding me to your finals list. You made my day.

    I agree with your choice of Conduit’s line. It gave me a serious case of the willys.

    I didn’t see Dramabird’s line about the “gates of the Emerald City,” which made me do triple takes merely for imagery and allusory power. That one made it to the top of my finals list.

    BTW — “looks like we’ve got a drunk…” was the opener in one of my screenplays. It’s now the first line of the novelization.


  51. Marley Gibson

    I really like this one. Something just…speaks to me on this one…

    >>”The footprints ended abruptly, just as the boy’s parents had said they would.” – anon<<

  52. Lisa Adams

    “That summer, the arsonist struck every home on the block but ours.” — jeanne

    This one gets my vote!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hi, Iโ€™m Nathan.ย Iโ€™m the author ofย How to Write a Novelย and theย Jacob Wonderbarย series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and Iโ€™m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams.ย Let me help you with your book!

My blog has everything you need to know to write, edit, and publish a book. Canโ€™t find what you need or want personalized help?ย Reach out.


I’m available for consultations, edits, query critiques, brainstorming, and more.



Need help with your query? Want to talk books? Check out the Nathan Bransford Forums!