I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break full of family, friends, reading, and writing. With my husband home, I had some dedicated time to work on revisions for my upcoming release, The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet as well as time with my favorite little kids:
|Connor age 2 1/2, McKenna age 5|
I know many of you were hard at work too because I kept seeing announcements of goals achieved on the Go Teen Writers Facebook group.
We have a really exciting year ahead of us on Go Teen Writers - lots of big contests and challenges in the works, plus Jill and I are releasing a book on turning your first draft into an edited, publishable novel. And we thought a great way to start the year would be to have a contest to help strengthen the first lines of our novels. Great books deserve to have great opening lines, and this week we're going to give you a chance to test out some of yours with published authors Laura L. Smith and Betsy St. Amant.
The goal of a first sentence is to draw in your reader, and the best way to do that is to raise a question in their mind. Here are some examples of great first sentences:
“Sometimes it seems like all I ever do is lie.” – The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
What is she lying about? Why does she have to lie? Who is she lying to? (And, ironically, Mia’s been lied to all her life, so this first line is extra fab.)
“The name of the song is “This Lullaby.” At this point, I’ve probably heard it, oh, about a million times.” -This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen (Yes, that was technically two sentences. I love this book. I couldn't help myself!)
What’s the deal with the song? Why has she heard it so often? I also love the clear, strong voice of Remy coming through.
“The Haddan School was built in 1858 on the sloping banks of the Haddan River, a muddy and precarious location that had proven disastrous from the start.” – The River King, Alice Hoffman
Oooh, intrigue. Why did they pick that location? And how has it been a disaster?
“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” – Emma, Jane Austen
The question this makes me ask is, what’s about to distress and vex her?
“I’d never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.” – Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
So many questions. Why’s she about to die? And how? And who’s killing her? And why? And why has she had lots of reasons to think about death recently? An excellent first line, and about a hundred times better than the first line of chapter one, which is, “My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down.” While this does prompt a question (Where is she going?) it’s not great.
Now we want to see what you've got!
For this special contest, you may submit up to three different first sentences using the form below. They can be from different manuscripts, a manuscript you haven't even written yet, or several sentences you're trying to decide between for one story.
This contest is unique in that there's no word limit, just a "one sentence limit." If your first sentence is actually just one word, you may include one additional sentence. For example:
Boom. At the sound of the cannon, Emily sat up in bed.
Many thanks to our judges:
Laura L. Smith
Laura's books in her own words: "I write real stories for real girls. There are no fairy godmothers or magic wands. Magical beasts don’t fill my pages nor do Prince Charmings. Instead I write about people like me, about characters who are multiple shades of people I know. I write about tough issues that no one wants to talk about. Things that stop a conversation at a dinner party in its tracks, or really heat it up. I write about eating disorders and sex and divorce and death and rape. I write about things that so many people deal with in the dark, in their personal “closets”, alone. I write to give them a voice, a sounding board, a place to start."
Betsy St. Amant
Betsy St. Amant is one Good Girl who enjoys writing about Bad Boys in her YA fiction novels. She lives in Louisiana with her fireman hubby and adorable preschooler, is often found consuming massive amounts of chocolate, and is an avid reader who is constantly wondering where Mr. Darcy went. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance. Her eighth Love Inspired novel will release this Fall, while her first YA novel, ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, released 2012 through Barbour Books. When she's not reading, writing, or singing along to the Tangled soundtrack with her young daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.
Please use the form below to submit your entries. Sentences that are emailed to me will not be entered in the contest.