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.