Tag Archives: writing challeng

Round Two Winners and Round Three Rules: The 50 First Lines Challenge

The 50 First Lines Challenge

Round One challenged you to write 50 First Lines and submit your Top Five.

Round Two challenged you to write Five First paragraphs and submit your Top Three.

From all those paragraphs, we picked OUR Top Three.

(click for source)

It was tough for our judges to pick the Top Three. Seriously tough. It took 2 days to whittle it down and we had a new guest judge (a Vancouver writer/actor/producer) to break the ties.

Without further ado, the Top Three First Paragraphs are (in no particular order):

1 – TAMARA WALSH (I don’t have a blog link for her)
I blame everything that happened on the orange chicken. Nobody would’ve ever known it was me who spray painted, “Steve Sucks!” across his barn if the dumb chicken hadn’t gotten itself caught in my crossfire. You’d have thought I’d sprayed it with acid instead of paint. The damn thing came at me like a pit-bull on steroids, pecking at clucking and flapping its wings. I couldn’t help but holler. When Steve’s father rushed out of the house to see what all the ruckus was about there I was—still swinging the can of paint, flailing about like a feathered fool in the moonlight. And there was the orange chicken, its claws dug firmly into my hair—still trying to peck my eyes out.

Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill. Not a single hunter from the King’s clan and not one farmer from the Queen’s clan knelt in admission. That hill, with its concealed scorpion pits and live landmines, was supposed to keep the two clans divided as part of the War treaty. But the baby had all the markings, proof that the hill had been crossed. He had the silvery eyes of the Kings and the ruddy skin of the Queens. His secret will not last long. In time, the family birthmark will bloom. Announcing to which hunter and which farmer the baby truly belonged. And then the spooks will come after them.

Waves rolled in, one after another, slowly erasing the bloody evidence. A lone seagull swooped above the breakers, curious about the swirling red in the pounding surf. Not far away, an old man in a parked BMW watched stone-faced as the last traces of his obsession were claimed by the sea. He sat motionless for another quarter of an hour, staring down at the log-strewn beach which, just an hour before, had been the scene of grisly violence. Turning the key in the ignition, a smile crept up his face as he reveled in what he had done. Avra would be so proud.

Congratulations! Each of the finalists gets an extra entry into the final drawing. And bragging rights, of course.

AND NOW … It’s time for the finale:

And once again, ANYONE can play!

I’ve never done this challenge in this manner before, so after it’s all over, I’d love your feedback. Typically, as an exercise I give to my students, I have them write 50 first lines, 10 first paragraphs, and then one short story.

Since I never specified if these were short stories or novellas or novels, I’m not going to require that for this challenge, but perhaps you’ve been inspired by what you’ve written and have big plans to turn one of these into a short story after all. I’d be thrilled if any of these became something bigger. (and please share with us if they do!)


Your final challenge is to take ONE of the THREE winning paragraphs above and tell us what the story is about. Beginning, middle, and end. Stakes and consequences. And you must do it in 10 sentences or less.

It might start something like:
This is a story about a young woman who gives away all the jewelry her ex-boyfriend ever gave her, only to discover that one of the pieces was a charm that belonged to his Hungarian grandmother. This charm has magical properties; it was how he got her to fall in love with him in the first place. Out of revenge, she wants to retrieve it and use it on him … then dump him right back! She goes on a wild cross-country goose chase after it, landing herself in jail after a speeding ticket leads to a fight with a police officer. Her ex-boyfriend bails her out and she realizes, after her road trip ordeal, that she’s no longer in love with him. Together, they find the ring and bring it back to his grandmother, so it can’t ruin any more lives, only to find out it wasn’t magic after all. It was just a story she told him for fun, because that’s what grandmothers do. (okay, that was spur of the moment, but you get the idea)

EVERY entrant gets their name in the draw. The BEST story idea (deemed so by our judges saying YES, I want to read this story most of all!) gets a bonus entry into the draw.

There will be two drawings for prizes, PLUS the person who has the MOST entries at the end (by participating and getting bonus entries) wins the secret prize.

But, again, most of all, this is for fun and inspiration. This is to get your creative juices flowing. So, have a good time with it.



Filed under 50 First Lines, writing exercises