Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Musing

Literary agent blogger Nathan Bransford and author Anne Dayton recently judged over 500 online entries to determine what makes a great opening hook. The "Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge", as it was formally named saw sentences ranging from transgressive splatterpunk imagery to purple-prose, literary aims to heavy-fisted schlock, but also some very solid writing. Most of the contestants realized the intrinsic spirit of fun that was the goal of the SUFLC, but within hours of announcing the finalists Bransford resigned to switch the voting to write-ins only because of "irregular activity", i.e. skulduggery.

And now... In no particular order, my top nine favorite first-liners **with comments.**

1.)lafreya said...
Here is the question the people of my hometown of Vigilant, Michigan want answered: Why did I, Grace Johnson, an African-American high school senior, an honor student, take two bullets to protect the life of the white supremacist jackass Jonathan Gilmore?

**The character Grace juxtaposed by jackass Jonathon really grabs my attention.**

2.)Conduit said...
His hands just looked dirty to casual eyes, a slight darkening on the knuckles, a shadow on his palm.

**This is a pretty good line. You can read into it a variety of ways and it's honest.**

3.) Church Lady said...
I was unaware of being watched.

**Although to me there's a disjunct of the narrator being 'unaware' while simultaneously 'watched', it grabbed my attention. I would even dare to call it a one sentence suspense story.**

4.)James Bailey said...
I had a professor my junior year in college who told us that one day we'd each wake up and realize we hated our lives, and that this knowledge would set us free. From my novel, THE GREATEST SHOW ON DIRT.

**I read your response to Amused Lurker that Nathan had already passed on your query for this work. But imagine the irony if this sentence would have won. It's good. I like it.**

5.)eric hill said...
It was a time of Miles,Coltrain,and Warhol; a time when the answer was blowing in the wind and we were all Dharma bums howling on the Coney Island of the Mind while the English were reinventing Rock-n-Roll and men eighteen to thirty-five were looking for some way out of the draft.

**This sentence conjures up the ghost whisperings of a favorite author. I enjoy zeitgeist pieces. You dig?**

6.)derek said...
I'd only been in love with her for ten minutes when everything turned to shit.

**A wedding in Las Vegas. It's all playing out before me in my mind.**

7.)dramabird said...
The gates of the Emerald City were rotting.

**I like the metaphor of a doomed city--Steven King did it in 'Hearts in Atlantis'. Excellent**

8.)trenchgold said...
The sky was a sloppy Picasso.

**Made me thing of a drunk looking at, but maybe not really 'seeing' the starry night. Very evocative of a perfection soured. Anyone who uses the word sloppy and Picasso in the same sentence gets a nod from me.**

9.)Matt said...
They came from the east, devastating the crops and leaving tiaras and cloak-pins in their wake.

**The British are coming! This is surreal and would I hope to find something in it akin to the work of Tom Robbins.**


Josephine Damian said...

Hey Curt,

Love your cute blog name! And when I viewed the larger version of your avatar, I said: Waaaaay cool painted walls. Wish mine looked like that.

When I read your comment on Derek's line, I instantly thought about that guy who got married to Britney Spears in Las Vegas.

Our list have lots in common, plus there were quite a few you have that I came thisclose to including.

I hope Lafreya gets some notice from this contest. She had two really great lines.

Josephine Damian

Curtastrophe said...

Yes there were a lot of good entries! There are quite a few commonalities on the other lists floating around out there. It's been a slight revelation to see the variety of different styles and ways of approaching things that people take in their writing. Overall though a good experience and one I look forward to participating in again.

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Dang it! I can't even make the B list!

Ello said...

Good stuff! I liked your choices and had a few in common with you, although I have to admit that several that weren't on my list but were on yours I really did like also.

I really love your blog's name, by the way!