Best first sentence for a novel about a lovely librarian who secretly burns the books she loves because she wants no one else to read them.
And the winner is — but before I announce the winner, let me say something about the selection process:
Invariably when I choose a winner for the Best First Sentence Contest (and this is number 6, I believe) I come under a certain amount of fire from some for my selection — this despite the fact that I’m the one who creates the prompt, reads the entries, and pays the prize money out of my bartender wages, and am very happy to do so. Honestly, I love it. I love these contests, and I’m delighted with how popular they’ve become. I plan to run them forever.
I’m not going to attempt to explain my tastes and my criteria in full. I only want readers to know this:
I’m looking at these entries as best first sentence for a book.
I mention that, though it might seem obvious, because I think it’s easy to lose sight of: I myself have lost sight of it. There are, in other words, many sentences that are excellent in and of themselves, but they just don’t quite have first-sentence power. Thus a sentence like the following, which I loved and chose as a finalist:
Lisa, the lovely librarian, looked at the pile of dying embers that used to be her favourite books and thought, ‘there, now you are where you belong, with the lovers who wanted to leave me.’ (Mark Knowles)
This one didn’t ultimately have as much first-sentence power as the following, by doc jim:
She had never thought of herself as possessive.
Or this one, by Jeanne:
“She found it at once — and almost by instinct — nestling at a coquettish angle between Mansfield Park and Doctor Zhivago as if to say, ‘I’ve been waiting for you to kiss me goodbye.’”
(Those, incidentally, were both runner-ups.)
But the winner is …
I imagined paperbacks would burn the fastest, but it’s actually the old threaded hardcovers that immediately turn to ash.
Please stay-tuned for the next contest.
My thanks to you all,