Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Opening Sentence Contest


DarkAndStormyNight“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”              – Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford 1830 

Bulwer-Lytton’s notorious opening sentence is so passionately maligned an example of overwrought writing that it has spawned the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for one-sentence entries. And, we're inspired to have our own—an Opening Sentence Contest.

Write one opening (as in first) sentence to an imagined work of fiction or creative nonfiction. Your sentence can be any genre, any subject; serious, humorous, romantic, satirical; whatever you like.

CLARIFICATION: Each submission should be only one sentence. This might require that you have fun with punctuation.

Deadline: 30 September 2013                       Submit via email to kbgressitt@gmail.com

Please include with your submission: your name, phone number and email address.

Multiple entries are OK. No attachments, please! Paste your opening sentence(s) into the body of the message (numbered, if you are submitting more than one).

Maximum sentence length is 60 words; less is fine; any more than 60, and your submission will not be considered. Unless we really like it. We’re fickle like that.

Prize: A book, definitely a book, probably the winner’s choice from a variety of books, including The Tin Horse by Janice Steinberg.

Not sure how to start? Ploughshares Editor Don Lee advised, “No sunlight through the window. No alarm clocks. No transit stories about meeting stupid people on the bus. No hangovers.” Traditional writerly advice suggests starting in the middle of your story. Take it or leave it—and have fun!

Any questions? Contact K-B Gressitt at kbgressitt@gmail.com.


Photo credit: Jo Naylor via a Creative Commons License