Good Things Come in Small Packages

Posted: April 13, 2016 in Writing
Tags: , ,

Present,  gift. Close up of female hands holding small gift.

So I entered another writing contest the other day.

This one was on a total spur-of-the-moment whim. In fact I had not even heard of this one, so it is not on my 2016 Pitch Contest Calendar.  I was scrolling through my Twitter feed during my lunch break, and saw a tweet saying that the submission window was open NOW, so I clicked on the link to check it out.

Usually, I get ready for pitch contests well in advance.  I read and re-read the rules and submission guidelines, making sure to catch every one of the little hidden formatting requirements, etc.  Then I make a Word document with my submission in it precisely as I am going to send it, right down to the spacing and font choice and everything (sometimes they specify even these details — and failing to get them right can be an automatic rejection).

But for this contest, obviously, I had not prepared anything at all. And frankly I tend to skip contests altogether if I haven’t properly prepared.  It’s embarrassing and unprofessional (and ultimately fruitless) to rush into these things with a slap-dash entry. So what was I thinking, clicking on the entry form?

This contest was rather unique.  For the first round the judges were going to select the top 50 entries, which would consist of nothing more than the fist sentence of your novel.  That’s it.  You give your name, e-mail address, genre, and the first sentence ONLY.  I could handle this on the fly; you enter via a web form, and I just had to fill in a few fields and hit send.  What was the worst that could happen?

I got a notification yesterday that I had been selected as one of the top 50, and would be moving on to the next round of the contest: the second sentence of my novel.

This made me laugh out loud.  Because the first two sentences of my novel are:

An ogre. Obviously.


If the judges like a minimalist first sentence, they’re gonna love the next round.

  1. Amira says:

    I entered that contest too. Read your email again. It confused me at first too. But if you got the same email as me, it just says you’re in the top 50 aka you submitted your entry on time. You are going in to the first round where the top 25 will be selected.

    They will only announce who made it into the top 25 this weekend. I know, that email was very confusing.

    And don’t feel bad about your first sentence – I actually hope they don’t choose me, because I’ve since completely rewritten my first chapter, and don’t want to submit the old version, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz says:

    Good for you. I love the first lines even though I don’t think it’s my kind of book, but the first lines are great for a hook.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul Cobb says:

    John, it’s all about enticing the reader to continue; that can obviously be through creating intrigue or by just having the opening out of the ordinary. Obviously you didn’t originally write the opening knowing you would be submitting the first sentence, but it was different enough to get them hooked! Guess the second one will as well. What’s the third one like, out of interest?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul Cobb says:

    Ah-ha, have just found and read it!

    “I could just see him through a gap in the plywood.”

    Why that is positively verbose in contrast! ;0)

    Should still keep them tuned in, though. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amira says:

    I think you have a good chance. “An ogre.” really makes you wonder ‘what the heck?’ if you can’t see the rest of it! Good luck

    Liked by 1 person

  6. seabreeze says:

    Love this..the buildup and the first sentence. Have recently entered a contest..I was very serious…next time, hope I can generate a great sentence like that!

    Liked by 1 person

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