Earlier this week, I mentioned Nathan Bransford's 4th Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge. I wasn't sure I should enter. But then Mr. Bransford posted something along the lines of Eh, Why not? Time's running out. So I said what the heck. There's safety in numbers. I joined the throngs in the soon-to-be slush pile. My entry is on this page, tenth from the bottom, I think (#1391). It starts, "Elizabeth fit her feet..."
My paragraph may never be read that deep in the pile, but the challenge is still proving useful. NB suggested his readers go through the entries to learn what works,what doesn't work, and how the good ones start to stand out after a while. [Article here] Mr. Untitlement and I did just that last night, and doggonnit if NB wasn't right. I printed the first 200 paragraphs (of more than 1500), and we went through, crossing out the ones that didn't grab us. In our first sweep, we wound up with only 45 survivors. It was disturbingly fun and educational. You really do start to see patterns after a while. I'm going to go through those 45 today and see how many I still like.
Meanwhile, I'm sure others are wrinkling their noses at my first paragraph and making big red Xs across it. So be it.
Even if you didn't enter, I highly recommend taking Mr. Bransford's advice to read the entries. It's a true crash course on how to start a book.
Thanks a zillion to everyone who read and commented on my 99th page yesterday. It means a lot to me. If you haven't read it and commented, then