13 July 2006

Why the first sentence matters

Word Nerd has blogged in the past about how the first sentence of a novel is so important for hooking a reader.

To prove this point, some good folks in the English department at San Jose State University have started the "Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest." Bulwer-Lytton is the guy who used "It was a dark and stormy night" to start off a really wretched first sentence about the rain in London.

So in his honor, this contest is after the absolute worst first sentence possible for a novel. Not the whole novel, just that abysmal first sentence.

This year's winner is Jim Guigli from Carmichael, Calif. His winning sentence, as copied from the contest site is: Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

Congratulations Jim... that's an awfully great sentence.

For this year's other entries (Word Nerd is a fan of the runner-up entry) click here.

For more on past winners, how to enter this contest and Bulwer-Lytton, click here.

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