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The often entertaining, and always interesting literary agent, Nathan Bransford (of Curtis Brown Ltd.), is running The 3rd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge, in which contestants submit the first paragraph of their current WIP.  

Among other things, first prize includes a choice of a partial critique, query critique, or phone consultation.

Finalists will receive query critiques.

Entries must be cut and pasted into the comments section on the link above by Thursday 4pm PACIFIC time.

Although the contest only opened on Monday, when I put in my first para from Waking Up Jack Thunder, this morning, I was entrant no 1663, so it's fair to say the competition is stiff.

Good luck to all who enter, but even if you don't want to take part, this is a great opportunity to get a glimpse of how other people start their novels.

ETA: If you decide to enter, feel free to copy your para into a comment here.  I'd love to read it, and in the interest of fair play, here's my entry:

At 2:42am, with the tails of his gray trenchcoat flapping about in the breeze, Dimitri Vassilchen hurried through the dim-lit, back streets of Old Town Prague. The musty odor of damp brickwork told him the river was near. Lazarus would have discovered the theft by now, and sent his men to scour the city in search of his accountant, so he kept to the shadows, cowering in darkened doorways whenever he heard an approaching car. 

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( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 14th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
Ooh, thanks for this! I've just been and posted my paragraph. Fingers crossed for both of us!
Oct. 14th, 2009 10:49 am (UTC)
My pleasure :)

I subscribe to his blog, but I've been a little behind on my emails or I'd have posted sooner.
Oct. 14th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
Good luck! :D
Oct. 14th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) Aren't you going to enter?
Oct. 14th, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
I really like Nathan Brandsford, but I actually have another agent in mind for when I finish Renaissance Angel. Plus, holy cow, the competition as you say is steep! I think I'll just watch from the sidelines. :)
Oct. 14th, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, I was in the late 900s when I entered yesterday. I'm going to take a shot and guess on the number of entries being 2500 by the time the contest closes. Let's see how close I am!

The following opening paragraph is from my WIP entitled "Rocket Girls are Real."

"Lola tried to scratch in a very private place, but her rocket suit got in the way. Stupid rocket suit. She didn’t know why she couldn’t be a cowgirl or a belly dancer or even a soldier. They all had better costumes. They could scratch their itches. But nooooooo. She had to be Lola the Rocket Girl who lived on Mars and killed bad aliens. Lola sniffed in disdain."

Good luck with "Jack Thunder!" I totally don't expect to win out of sooooo many entries, but it's a fun little contest.
Oct. 14th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
'...Good luck with "Jack Thunder!" I totally don't expect to win out of sooooo many entries, but it's a fun little contest...'

Back at ya :)
Oct. 14th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
The opening paragraph from "Dillon And The Legend of The Golden Bell"

For all the love Dillon had for Star Island, being there for more than a few days was rather like eating a very rich and sweet dessert. The first couple of bites were ecstasy but after a while you realized that your system was starting to rev up from the overdose of sugar. Star Island was a lot like that. Once you arrived, there was the tendency to indulge in everything it had to offer, but after a time your senses and body cried out for a break. There was just too much for the senses to take in, so much to see and do, taste and smell.
Oct. 14th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
Nice one :) Did you enter?
Oct. 14th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
I entered last year, but no new WIP to speak of. Good luck!
Oct. 14th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I've a feeling I'll need it :)
Oct. 14th, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC)
I tried posting, but I'm not sure it worked as I can't see my comment. Ho hum. :-)

Under a white blanket, London slept. Powdery snow dusted the shoulders and hat of the old man who made his way across London Bridge. The skies cleared as he walked; backlit clouds drifting west on unfelt winds to reveal a bright moon and glittering stars. Sure footed, despite the slippery ground, he traced his path with a quiet certainty. Following a call that only he could hear across the river, flowing black and silent through the city’s heart, then on into the narrow streets of the old town.

Opening paragraphs not my strong point anyway :-S
Oct. 14th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
Looks fine to me :)

Thanks for sharing :)
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Oct. 14th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
'... Sorry, I didn't read all the way through...'

Lol, I get that a lot ;)
Oct. 15th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like that one.
Oct. 15th, 2009 10:55 am (UTC)
Three a.m. Sara Jane lay spent on the cement cellar floor, a nest of old newspapers cradling her, her winter coat opened flat beneath her legs, its gray lining wet with melted snow and milky birthing fluids. She worked her jaw from side to side, cramped from the cloth diaper she’d held between her teeth. She had awakened no one.
Oct. 15th, 2009 11:03 am (UTC)
Nice one, Chris :)

Is that from Scars on the Face of God or a new project?
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:18 am (UTC)
Thx, Jon. It's from the prologue of HOP SKIP JUMP, a WIP paranormal novel.
Oct. 15th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
Now that I've posted it, I think it looks a bit long, and I'm fairly sure it would be counted as more than one paragraph, or not really a paragraph at all, but tough. It's there now.

I wasn’t expecting anyone to be in my flat.
I walked down the hall in the dark, knowing where I was going having made the short trip from door to living room a thousand times before. So when I reached round the corner and flicked on the light, and the figure was suddenly revealed, I screamed. He didn’t react to the sudden sound, or the glare of the light. He just stood there, in front of me, hands clasped behind his back.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, once I’d gathered myself.
He stepped forward, and his face was revealed. His hair was black, and his eyes a clear blue. At a guess, he was between 25 and 35. He looked exactly as I remembered.
But then, the dead were like that.
If I’d been surprised by his arrival, it was nothing to how I felt at his next words.
“We need your help, Martha.”
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
Lol, I imagine there are plenty longer than that :)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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