The Contest

I have learned a lot so far from this contest.

1. This was a first few paragraphs contest, not a first line contest. Amy made a comment on the last post about how she read the entries–focusing too much on the first line. I had that problem too. I had to keep reminding myself this was not a first line contest, this was a first 150 words contest which is very very different. I wonder what the results would have been if it had just been based on first lines.*

2. It’s important to feel connected to the MC from the beginning.Voice is a big factor in this. There were some characters in those first few lines that I knew right off the bat and I wanted to follow them, to get to know them.

3. The competition is fierce. With every entry I wanted to keep reading. Even with the ones that had a quieter start, I wanted to see what was going to happen next. I was really blown away by the talent and the range.  Bots and lawn mowers, making out under stairwells,  kissing grandma on the lips, cutting, murdered parents, missing hearts, and crystal basilicas. I could go on and on. That’s why picking was so difficult.

4. I used Carol’s questions as my guide and after reading all the entries over and over, I went and took a hard look at my WIP. That first page is so crucial.

5. We read differently. No matter what, we are partial to certain types of voices, certain types of stories, certain types of journeys and that will skew our reading. This is why it’s so important to keep sending your work out to agents and editors until you have someone who loves your work. First, of course, rewrite, revise, rewrite. Get it in the best shape you can but then dont’ be discouraged by rejection. We all have different taste. Good solid writing, no matter the genre is crucial, but from there, it’s a matter of finding the right fit.

6. I love all of you. This is so fun and I’m excited to read the next batch.

So send in your entries. I’ll get them up as soon as I can after ten Tuesday morning. It might be right away, it might take awhile depending on if any of my kids run outside naked at that particular time. I think this will be an interesting challenge. Totally new writing, everyone has the same six words/constraints, very limited time. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Remember to send your entries to and indicate whether you are  an “at-home” competitor or in the 14. New pen-names please!



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4 responses to “The Contest

  1. I always like reading entries to contests like these because just seeing a whole bunch of beginnings en masse really gives you a sense of how a successful beginning is shaped. I thought they were good, too–but I especially gravitated towards the ones that grounded me in the character and not *just* the action. The two things work hand in hand in the best of them.

    • CLW

      I agree. And sometime even more than just two things. A skilled writer can tell us so much in just a few sentences. I think of Ann Dee’s opening of Everything is Fine. Pretty darn quick we know the MC, recognize the voice, know another character and know there is a serious problem. And I bet that all happens in not much more than 150 words.

  2. Thanks so much for the contest and for sharing a top-quality blog! I gave all of you an award today:


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