RARA-AVIS: Ross Thomas Award for Best First Lines

From: Maggie ( webmaven@nyc.rr.com)
Date: 03 May 2005

Dunno if you've heard of this already, but it's worth a second post...

The First Annual Great First Line Contest

Blame Chuck Dickens. He started the whole "great first line" thing, with "it was the best of times…" Now we all have to have to keep up.
 Happily, nobody does better first lines than mystery and thriller writers.

"Shortly after the death of the failed Quaker, Steadfast Haynes, the Central Intelligence Agency received a telephoned blackmail threat that was so carefully veiled and politely murmured it could have been misinterpreted as the work of some harmless crank. But it wasn't misinterpreted."

Read that and I dare you to close the book without reading on. In recognition of the art of crafting great first lines, several of us in the mystery community have decided to launch the Ross Thomas Award
(named with the permission of Ross's widow, Rosalie). It will be given to the best first line of a mystery or thriller published in English in 2004.

Nominations can be submitted through Jim Huang's website: http://themysterycompany.com/firstline/firstline.htm. Anyone can submit a line - as long as the work from which it is taken was published in English in 2004. (You absolutely can nominate yourself.) The top ten "great first lines" - and the winner -- will be selected by a panel of booksellers, fans, and writers and will be announced at Midwest MWA's Of Dark and Stormy Nights Writing Conference, June 11, 2005, and be featured in a forthcoming issue of The Drood Review. Those who nominate the winners will also be recognized.

We hope to make this an annual event, and we encourage everyone to submit their favorite first line. And if you're interested in becoming a judge or otherwise being involved, please drop an email to samhill@samhillonline.com.

Some of my favorites?

"By the time Jerry Pankow was ready for breakfast, he'd already been to three bars and a whorehouse." (Small Town, Lawrence Block)


"They found out about him in July and stayed angry all through August." (Without Fail, Lee Child)

Not that there aren't a million more... If you can think of any others
- send 'em to Sam Hill!

Maggie webmaven

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