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April 9, 2011 / Chersti Nieveen

First Line Contest Winners Announced

Here are some of the trends we noticed:

Death /killing/dying: 12
Mentions of underwear: 2
Mentions of a god: 3
Mention of knives: 2
Shortest: 1 word [running]
Longest: 32 words
Mentions of drool: 2
Waking up: 3

And without further ado, the WINNERS!

First Place: Kalen O’Donnell

For my sixteenth birthday, my oldest brother tried to kill me again.

Second Place: Nikki Katz

Jocelyn stared at the guy sitting across the table from her, wondering how he’d react later – when he was drowning.


Runners Up

We choose a few who had high points in their first sentence, and then a few random comments.

Kimberly Kay – I thought I knew the definition of fear, but this time Webster was wrong.

Peggy Eddleman – You’d think I had never jumped off a 35 foot cliff before, based on how long I stood there, not jumping.

Erica Olson – I slammed the car door and rushed past the men putting pieces of my life into a big white truck.

Marcy Pusey – The first time MaryAnn died she was only nine years old.

Janet B Taylor – They say eyes are the window to the soul–or some crap like that–but for me, eyebrows are way more interesting.

Amy White – Oliver used to be ordinary–yesterday.

Susan Kaye Quinn – A zero like me shouldn’t take public transportation. winners (for anyone who entered; bonus points to those who spread the word)

Katharina Gerlach

Elizabeth Dimit

Michele Tennant

Theresa Milstein

Katrina Lantz

Ryan Burt

Alwyn Hamilton

Camille Ballou


Winners: PLEASE CONTACT me with your name and address at chersti.nieveen [at] gmail [dot] com

I’ve noticed in other contests, they don’t tell you what worked and what didn’t. So to give you some feedback, here’s What made a good first sentence (in our eyes, at least)…

NOT Too common: the sentence seemed like it could belong in any story or was similar to other first sentences so it would blend in.

NOT a Cliché opening: such things that hinted the first chapter would be cliché or something the judge had read before were discarded.

NOT Too confusing: Meaning grammar mistakes or the judge had no idea what the sentence even meant.

Pulled the judge in. It intrigued enough that the judge would keep reading. If it was too obvious, it doesn’t pull the judge in. A sentence like: THE SKY IS BLUE makes the reader think yeah… so?

Humor/quirkiness. That was a definite draw and gave originality, allowing the judge to see the author’s voice in one sentence.

Had specific details as opposed to generalities. The more specific, the better the sentence could be visualized.



  1. Robin Weeks / Apr 9 2011 7:37 am

    Congrats to the winners! Since I agree with the judges, I can’t feel too bad I’m not on the list! 🙂

  2. Amy / Apr 9 2011 1:10 pm

    So now those sentences/beginnings have my interest piqued and I want the rest of the story!

    Great lines, really great lines!

  3. Constance Lombardo / Apr 9 2011 3:06 pm

    Congratulations to the winners, and thanks for hosting this contest! Those are some amazing first lines….

  4. Morgan Fedderly / Apr 10 2011 5:30 am

    Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who took the time to host this great contest! Really fun!

  5. Susan Kaye Quinn / Apr 10 2011 5:51 am

    Congrats to the winners! And so cool to be a runner up – thanks! And thanks to Chersti for hosting!!

  6. Kalen O'Donnell / Apr 10 2011 9:49 pm

    Oh wow this is awesome! Thanks so much for hosting this again and I will be emailing you STAT!

  7. Theresa Milstein / Apr 11 2011 6:26 pm

    Congratulations to the winners. Those were some great first lines.

    And thanks to Chersti and Randomizer for picking me. I’ll e-mail ASAP!

  8. RaShelle / Apr 11 2011 8:43 pm

    Yay for the winners. I’ve changed my first sentence – again. Now it’s better. You want to run another contest? LOL

  9. Erica Olson / Apr 13 2011 1:41 pm

    Hey, thanks for the contest and I’m glad I’m a runner up!! Great sentences, everyone!

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