UPDATE: VOTING IS CLOSED!
Ladies… gentlemen… Chris Harrison…
This has been an incredible journey. I can honestly say this has been the hardest decision of my life, and it just kills me to have to decide who gets to stay… and who has to go home. I really hate to say goodbye to these amazing paragraphs, but I had to look inside my heart and find the first paragraphs I really connected with on an emotional level. Thank you to all of you for being here tonight.
I only have 7 roses to give out tonight.
But first, let me discuss with the camera in a pained voice some of the things that helped me make my decision.
While I met over 600 beautiful women er, paragraphs in the course of this journey, some of them just weren’t in it for the right reasons. Here are some of the things I was looking for, and a few of the reasons some of the paragraphs did not receive a rose this evening (besides the fact that some of the paragraphs had shotgun-wielding fathers).
I crave originality. When establishing a world in a first paragraph, it is so so so important to avoid cliches and sentence crutches. One easy way of telling if you’re using one of these is to run a “find” in the comments section for key phrases in your paragraph. For instance, Chris, I hate to single these lovely paragraphs out but the phrase “the last thing X expected” was used five times.
Also, trust is just so important in a relationship, and I really had a lot of respect for the first paragraphs who trusted me as a reader. Some of the paragraphs who will not receive roses tonight had too many redundant words of emphasis. When they said something unexpected, they followed up with superfluous emphasis, as in “No, really.” or “Literally.” or “Seriously.” or “I’m not talking about this, I’m talking about THIS” You have to trust the reader to recognize when something is surprising, and if you do have to qualify it, it means you probably could have written it better the first time.
Lastly, I found myself attracted to first paragraphs who didn’t try too hard — they didn’t try too hard to be literary, and they weren’t too chatty. A healthy middle ground is simply amazing.
(another dramatic pause — have I mentioned the candles??)
The first rose…. goes to MAY VANDERBILT.
Let me tell you — it took hours and hours to go through the entrants to pick finalists, and I seriously cannot thank May enough for her help. For the love of all things Bachelor, please subscribe to Good Girl Lit, buy THE BOOK OF JANE, and express your appreciation to May — this was a tremendous task, and the mere thought of trying to choose finalists without May gives me hives. Not that I get hives. Moving on.
Now for the finalists in the Largely Indispensible First Paragraph Challenge…
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER…
The second rose…. goes to Sophie W.:
Oh no, it’s some kind of infestation, Rosemary thought, prodding the ground with her boot. Next to the barn were several fist-sized holes, just big enough for rats, or worse, imps. She hated imps. They were always getting into the larder and causing a fuss.
The third rose…. goes to eric:
There’s this girl I’ve never met that I know everything in the world about. Well, most everything. Not the big stuff, I guess. Like what she prayed about when she would cry at her bedside or whether she really believed those prayers might get answered. And I never knew all of the reasons for the crazy shit she did, but hey, who really does? I did know other stuff though. The real freaky-deaky shit. Like how she would crack open her father’s disposable razors with a pair of pliers she kept stashed behind her dresser and how she’d slice herself up. Sometimes I think she left her window blinds open that way just so somebody, anybody, me–a guy she never met–would know. Not that she was some kind of attention whore. Just about everybody is some kind of attention whore. Not Scissors, though. And I could testify in court to that, since, I’m like, some kind of authority on the girl.
The fourth rose…. goes to CC:
Brooklyn didn’t know very much about me. Actually, the girl knew surprisingly little, which was exactly what I needed in a friend. She didn’t ask intrusive questions and I didn’t have to lie or have my heart pound while I searched for acceptable answers. She wasn’t into meaningful conversation and heartfelt talks. She was light, snappy, and never depressed. And most importantly, she wasn’t my responsibility.
The fifth rose…. goes to Emily Ryan-Davis:
Life inside a piano isn’t all knitting cobweb sweaters and napping. It’s dangerous. Every time a clumsy student flings himself at the bench and bangs on the ivories, just to see his fingers walk across the black and whites, I face death. The action’s unpredictable. If I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, I could lose my head.
The sixth rose…. goes to Aden:
He was short and skinny, shorter than the others, and never wore a shirt when he ran. His thin arms flailed as he kept ahead of us and we all wondered how. He was so fast. But mostly we watched the bouncing scars on his back and thought about how he got them. We called him the Wizard. It was because of his hair, wild black mass with a white shock hanging in the front. That’s how I thought of him. The Wizard. I wish I knew what names they had given him but I never asked. Between us, there was an unspoken rule: everything would remain unspoken.
Chris Harrison: “Paragraphs, Bachelor… this is the final rose this evening.”
The last and final rose…. goes to Regan:
The great flaw in the system was that some of the Children remembered what it felt like when they were taken. It was impossible to tell who would remember–temperament, age, gender, none of them seemed to matter. The flaw persisted despite all of the technicians’ attempts to eradicate it. In rare cases a Child, newly imprinted, would awaken at odd hours of the night, crying for reasons she couldn’t explain or shaking with a nameless dread and a desperate feeling that something wasn’t right.
Chris Harrison: “Paragraphs, Bachelor…. If you did not receive a rose this evening, please take a moment.. and say your goodbyes.”
IF YOU RECEIVED A ROSE TONIGHT: please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org — you are entitled to a query critique. I know some of you don’t need a query critique because you’re all agented and everything, but we’ll figure something to properly reward your awesomeness so e-mail me anyway.
Now is the time for voting. Here are the procedures:
In the comments section of THIS POST, please vote for your favorite paragraph. Anonymous votes will not be counted, so please either sign in to Blogger or use your real name. Please do not openly campaign for yourself or others on the Internet or via e-mail (this is a meritocracy), and irregular voting activity will be monitored and mercilessly punished.
Thank you so much to everyone who entered — I really appreciate that everyone put themselves out there by entering, the response was seriously overwhelming. And trust me, it was ridiculously difficult to pick finalists — there were many close calls and tough decisions.
What an amazing journey.