On your mark!

October 14, 2007 | Karin's Blog | 24 comments

Don’t post your first line yet! But get ready. Monday October 15th, I will post a blog at exactly 7:00 p.m. PACIFIC TIME titled GAME ON! When that post is up the first 75 legit first lines will be in the hunt.

The last two times I watched the lines go up and emailed those who screwed up. I will not be doing that this year. Follow the guidelines below and you should be good to go. If you have a question post them to the comment section of this blog post. I will do my best to answer all of them before the contest officially commences Monday evening.

The prize? The five finalists will have the opportunity to send 10 pages of their story beginning with their original first line to St. Martin’s editor Hilary Teeman.
Now, here are a few First line rules

*First of all I will accept only 75 entries. The first 75 first lines that adhere to these rules:

*Rule number one: Each entry must be one line. One line meaning one sentence, statement or dialogue line with dialogue tag. I know last time many of you used semi colons and colons and that’s ok, but remember, in many ways, less is more. My advice? Make a quick hard hitting punch then pull back and watch the reader fall for the next line.

*Which brings me to rule number two: The line you begin with is the line you stay with, along with each subsequent line. No adding, subtracting or changing words. This will be strictly enforced. Please don’t make more work for me. Last time it was brought to my attention that there were some changes, and while unintentional, if any this time around are changed the entry will be dropped.

*If you make it to the next round and don’t post your subsequent line you will not be notified, and you will be dropped. No exceptions. We had an excellent entry last year that most likely would have finaled, but because of an electrical hiccough the person was unable to post her line by the deadline at the end of the week. My suggestion? Post it asap to avoid freaky things like that.

*The following round will be posted some time each Monday, each entrant has until midnight Friday (of the same week) to post their next line. I will enforce this. My judge needs the weekend at the very least to make their picks. And be sure when you post your subsequent line you also post the lines that got you there.

*For the first two rounds, 10 lines will be culled each week, when we hit 55 entries, I will go back to 5 a week. If all entrants don’t post, I will only have the judges cull the amount necessary to get to the next multiple of five. Example: if we are at 40 and five are culled making the next round 35 and only 32 of those entrants post, only two will be culled to keep the next round at 30. I will not allow previously culled lines to reenter. It’s too confusing, too much work, and causes too much strife. And I’m grumpier this time around.

*I will open the contest 7 p.m. PACIFIC time Monday October 15th.

*Let’s be fair. One entry per person.

*To avoid the problems we had last year with entrants posting early and thus being dropped for doing so, I will post a commencement blog at 7 p.m. PACIFIC time Monday October 15th titled Game On, when you see it go for it. Any lines posted before that post will be kicked out, and it will be up to you to pay attention and get back into the hunt. After the 75 legitimate first lines are posted the contest will be closed to new entries. I’ll post a blog announcing the contest is closed. I’ll be monitoring closely. There will be many comments along with the first lines so it can get confusing. But I will make the cut at the correct entry, it just may take me a bit to figure it out. Last year the first 75 spots were filled in less than 30 minutes, I expect it will go sooner this year.

*Again, the five finalists will have the opportunity to send the first 10 pages of their first line story to St. Martin’s editor Hilary Teeman. She will pick the winner and hopefully ask to see fulls, which I hope will result in a sale.

*As with the previous contests, I will have a different anonymous judge (a New York multi-published author) cull five entries a week, 10 each the first two weeks. I will be keeping better records this year, and let me just say thanks again to my judges. While they thoroughly enjoyed the job, they found it very difficult and asked me on several occasions to be the tie breaker. I passed. I know too many of you, and could not in good conscience do it. So, all I can say, is put your best line forward every week. And good luck!

*Have a question? Let’s get them out of the way now.



  1. Wendi

    Karin, Do you want us to include our full name with the entry line? I didn’t get to see last year’s contest, so I’m not sure how it works. Thank you! And I hope you’re feeling better since the accident.

  2. Theresa

    Karin, I’m soooooo looking forward to this. Huge thank yous go out in appreciation for setting this up for us again. It has to be an enormous amount of work, and I know how busy you are with deadlines.

  3. Kara

    You’re such a good egg to do this contest again. We *love* it, but I can only imagine the work for you. I did giggle at the grumpy comment. We’ll all try to be good and follow the rules.

  4. Jennifer

    Thanks Karin for sponsoring such an awesome contest. Since I am new to this contest I didn’t know what other info should be included with our first line. Do you need anything else such as our name, story’s name, or category?

  5. Karin

    As to the name question, use the one that shows when you comment. It makes life less confusing.
    Jennifer, I need only your name, and the lines.

  6. Taylor

    I’m looking forward to the contest. I followed it last year. It looked like y’all had a lot of fun.

  7. Donna Kowalczyk

    Hi Karin! Wow, I can’t wait to read all the great first lines tomorrow night. And I’ll be stress free this time since I have nothing to enter…LOL Best of luck to everyone!!!

  8. Judy Soifer

    Thanks for doing the contest again. You’re the best, Karin.


  9. Heather W

    You’re very brave, Karen! Thanks so much for doing this for us. 🙂


  10. Margaret

    Awesome, Karin! I am so looking forward to the challenge of entering the contest (actually that is half the fun!).
    Stupid question alert!: Multiple sentences in one dialogue chunk.
    I understand that when you have a dialogue line, you post that one line and use the end quote. BUT if you make the cut to the next week and you have the next dialogue sentence to post, which was part of the original character’s chunk of dialogue and use the end quote after the second sentence, would this disqualify you? Or is this an understood part of the game?

  11. Karin

    Margaret not sure I follow you. Do you mean two sentences in one quote? Like: “I can’t believe you just said that. No way am I going to do that!” she screamed. that would be two lines. you need to break them up.
    you could do, “I can’t believe you just said that!” she screamed.
    the following week you can add the next line. Or you could leave off the dialogue tag the first week and add the second line of dialogue then add the tag.

  12. Margaret

    Thanks, Karin. You answered my question.

  13. Brenda

    I’m really looking forward to the contest. You are so awesome for taking up so much of your time to help other writers.

  14. LaDonna

    Hey, Karin, like Donna I’ll be cheering you all on this year! I swear, this contest is the best one out there hands down. You’ve definitely made a special place for writers, and it’s an amazing experience. Can’t wait. 🙂

  15. Carol

    I cannot believe I happened to check out your blog today of all days.

    I’ve been checking periodically for the past month to see when you were going to launch the contest. Lucky for me I happened to check today…and two hours BEFORE the scheduled posting time! I hope my luck holds out and I make it to the first round!

    Good luck everyone!

  16. Jordanne

    Thanks so much for doing this, Karin! It’s such a great opportunity for us!

    Good luck everyone!

  17. Amanda

    Good luck everyone.

  18. Judy Soifer

    Dair Curator had lost count of the number of women he’d slept with.

  19. Judy Soifer

    I posted this in the wrong place. It was after 7:00PM, so you can see I waited. I reposted to the right place.

  20. Taylor

    “I’ll bet you taste as good as you smell.”

  21. Taylor

    OOps, I had this open earlier, reading…lol.

    See, get too anxious and you goof up. I just made it under the wire too. I was halfway to my pillow when I realized the time.

  22. Nikki Beynon

    Hi Karin, I’m completely new to both your site (nice work!) and this great comp (nicer work!). Can I just clarify that each round (starts Mon closes Fri) you add a CONSECUTIVE line from the story? Or do you just up the ante each time with another great line from the story??

    Sorry, that may well be a very dopey question.



  23. Carla

    “Take your pants off and lie down,” Marina Henry ordered before turning to leave the room.

  24. Karin

    Nikki, sorry I thought I answered your question. Each week if your line is posted for the next round you post in the comment section of that post the line/lines that got you there (no changing them) and your new next line by midnight pst that friday.

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