FIRST LINE COMPETITION WINNER


Congratulations to her_head_in_the_clouds (Leigh) for winning the first line competition!

"The Fitzpatrick was the kind of bar where you might find a tooth when sweeping the floor after closing."


This was a tough competition to judge! I had so many submissions, and some of them really made me want to read those stories. They made me deeply curious about the background - for example, what's a Porffle? And what happened to Galen Sinclair?

In the end, there were several points about Leigh's first line which made it stand out.


1. Show, don't tell. Leigh doesn't say that the Fitzpatrick is dark and smelly inside. She doesn't say what kind of people drink there, and she doesn't say exactly where it's located. All these details are summed up in the short, descriptive phrase "the kind of bar where you might find a tooth when sweeping the floor after closing." Instead of spoon-feeding the reader information, she leaves it up to their imagination.

2. It's just the right length for an opener. Not too long. Not too short. Leigh doesn't try to cram information where it doesn't belong. Instead, she maximizes what she can say in a reasonable amount of space.

3. It throws the reader into the middle of a story. What do we know so far? We know that there's a bar called the Fitzpatrick. We can guess that it's going to play a key role in the story, and we can guess about what kind of people might be there and about the atmosphere inside. Knowing this information helps us to form a picture not only of the Fitzpatrick, but also of the surrounding down. Where would you expect to find a bar like this?

4. Unusual descriptor. "The Fitzpatrick was the kind of bar where patrons often stumbled out drunk" doesn't have the same effect as Leigh's original sentence. That's because 1) it tells more than it shows, and 2) this kind of descriptor feels too common. After all, any bar has patrons who stumble out drunk. But not every bar has serious brawls that apparently happen quite frequently. A tooth on the floor also shows a certain level of observational skill which promises strong world-building and descriptive writing.


The best part of this first line is the scene it paints and the amount of imagery it fits into a single short sentence. It draws me instantly into another world - which for me, at least, is the whole point of reading fiction - and makes me curious.

What happened at the Fitzpatrick? Who's there making these observations?



Check my Instagram for future competitions, writing prompts, and more!

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