Writing Contest for Fun and Profit (okay, I lied about the profit part)

This is a complete experiment, but I’ve always wanted to try this as a contest. I’ve done this writing exercise on my own before and it’s really amazing where it can take you. Unexpected places, if you are game, to be sure.

image by Michael V Manalo

Because of all the Platform-Building Campaign events, and in anticipation of the release of my middle grade fantasy The Ruins of Noe, I think it’s a great time for a combination extended writing exercise and contest. You can participate in any part of the exercise and you can WIN something even if you don’t finish. How often does that happen in life?

This exercise/contest stems from one of my favourite experiments called 50 First Lines. There are 3 stages to this experiment. In the first stage you sit down and write, you guessed it, 50 first lines.

Don’t think about them too much. Don’t spend too much time on them. Less than an hour. Just write them as fast as they come. Don’t judge them as you write. With 50 first lines you can throw out 90% of them and still have lines to work with later.


After you have written your 50 first lines, pick your TOP FIVE and post them here in the comment section no later than midnight Monday, Feb 26. Feel free to link to your blog if you decide to post the rest of them. Otherwise, we’ll just trust that you did 50 of them.

NEXT WEDNESDAY 2/29, my secret clan of guest judges and I will pick the TOP FIVE first lines (any first lines, so more than one of yours could be picked) and I will give you your next instructions. FEEL FREE to sway judges opinions by commenting on the lines that YOU find amusing/interesting/surprising/etc. We will take your comments into consideration.

Okay, this sounds like fun, you say.
But what can I win, and How do I win?

Your name goes into a drawing for EACH stage of the exercise you complete. So, if you play each week, you’ll have 3 entries.

Your name goes into a drawing if you are a finalist in the 1st or 2nd stages. (And if 2 of your entries are picked one week, you get your name in twice.)

If you are the final finalist (i.e. the winner after the last stage), you get a prize. That prize is totally separate from the drawing.

PRIZES will be a signed copy of Book One or Book Two from my Faerie Tales from the White Forest series AND the grand prize winner (i.e. the final finalist) will get a bonus surprise prize. I won’t say what that is until the end, but you will like it, I promise.

So, you could win from the drawing, or by winning the 3rd round.

Here are a few sample start lines from the last time I did this exercise:

It was the colour of vomit… probably because it was vomit.

The clown nose was the last straw.

The idea was half-baked – – but then again, she liked things a little raw.

The horse was her neighbour’s and they were both studs.

Green, blue, red . . . what mattered the colour of his blood when his heart was a broken hinge?

It was a perfect morning for picking mushrooms.

I was taking a short cut through the cemetery when I spotted it. Him. It.

If he had told her about his origami-folding autistic idiot-savant brother in the first place, they wouldn’t be in this jam.

“I think it can be reattached,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time she had been arrested for bar-fighting, and the other time wasn’t her fault either.

From the surface of the moonblue water, a tail emerged like a telescope.

Her credit card was maxed and her bank account was dry, but by God she was going to have a good time at the space station.

Mumphy paced back and forth in front of the delivery room and wondered if it were too late to tell Chelle he no longer wanted to be a part of the experiment.

Have a great time!


Filed under 50 First Lines, writing exercises

20 responses to “Writing Contest for Fun and Profit (okay, I lied about the profit part)

  1. Great idea. I’ll certainly give it a go. Quick question, does it matter if these first lines have been used in writing prompts or writing challenges that have already been posted on the web? Nothing officially published, but I have used them in other pieces.

    • Well, the point of the exercise is to crank out 50 first lines as fast as you can, without thinking too much about them, so I’d prefer that. Although, I really wouldn’t know if you HAD used them before. lol.

      I think if you try it this way you’ll be surprised by what comes out. You may even time yourself. I think I did mine in less than 30 minutes.

  2. Pingback: Weekend Workout: Write Those 50 First Lines! | The Accidental Novelist (Writes Again)

  3. So here’s my 5 lines:
    1. When Jim awoke on the morning of his 50th birthday, he had no idea it was to be his last day on earth.
    2. Her job sucked her soul dry and killed her ambitions and dreams–but the pay was good.
    3. Opening his eyes, he at first thought it still full night, but he could feel the warmth of the sun upon his face–that witch had struck him blind!
    4. Tears flowed unheeded down his face as her stroked Arwen’s head, not caring who saw him grieving for his dying pet cat.
    5. Nothing was tastier than brains, not that he could remember any other flavour.

  4. Pingback: 50 First Lines Contest « 4amWriter

  5. Okay, I did it! Phew, and on the weekend to boot. Here are my top 5:

    1. Deadly and desirable, that was the heading on my business card.
    2. She and the horse eyed each other with suspicion, remembering how one tried to kill the other.
    3. Seven deadly sins have become eight now that I returned home.
    4. Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill.
    5. She glared at the wheelchair knowing if she ever used the damn thing, it would be to commit suicide.

    For the total 50 that I wrote, I have them posted here:

    Thanks for a fun and quite useful challenge!

  6. Pingback: First Fifty « Annie Cardi

  7. Pingback: No MGM; Campaign Tag; 50 First Lines by Midnight! | The Accidental Novelist (Writes Again)

  8. Loved this challenge! Here’s my five:
    1. My grandmother doesn’t believe a man walked on the moon.
    2. There’s no such thing as a good day in Antarctica.
    3. My father died and the yard sale was the next day.
    4. We sing hymns like the good girls our mothers think we are.
    5. If you destroy someone’s life, they’re yours forever.

  9. So fun…yet hard. My brain is tired now after coming up with all 50. I want to go to bed. Thanks for the challenge though. Here are my 5:
    1. It wasn’t what the bottle held that frightened me, but what it didn’t contain anymore.
    2. Regarding Job, I would say he lived a life of ease.
    3. I blame everything that happened on orange chicken.
    4. Waves rolled in, one after another, slowly erasing the bloody evidence.
    5. Fire crawled beneath my skin, burning me alive as I stared at the static red dot on my tracker and imagined the murderous eyes of my stalker staring out at me from the ancient hemlock forest.


    Thanks to our four players in this round. You each get one entry into the draw just for playing. Plus, our judges will pick their top 5 faves, and you get another entry for each First Line of yours that they pick (the lines are mixed up and anonymous to them).

    ANYONE can join in the next round, which starts tomorrow, WED FEB 29

  11. Pingback: 50 First Line Finalists and 2nd Round Rules! Join us! | The Accidental Novelist (Writes Again)

  12. Pingback: Fifty First Lines, Part 2 « Annie Cardi

  13. Jackie Paulson

    I am unable to do this just now b/c of work but I enjoy the contest, great idea and great 5 lines!!!!

  14. Pingback: Round Two Winners and Round Three Rules: The 50 First Lines Challenge | The Accidental Novelist (Writes Again)

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