Still time to enter the Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge! As of this writing 1,296 of your closest friends have already entered, so why not you? I’m sure your paragraph is just as good as theirs!
If you do enter, please be sure and do so in the official contest thread. You have until 4pm Pacific time.
– So far I have read 500 entries. It is going to be very difficult to choose the finalists! I am a little rusty now that I no longer read queries, but am swiftly getting back into the swing of things.
– I have lately been seeing some duplicate posts duplicate posts. Please do remember that the blog displays comments in chunks of 200, so you may not immediately see your comment. There are little buttons at the top and bottom of the comment section that will help you navigate to the end of the comment chain.
– I shall hold off on providing my thoughts on the entries for now, but thoughts will be provided in due time.
– If you are new and are enjoying the contest experience, please join the discussion Forums! There are many great topics being discussed, a place to ask me questions, Forums to get feedback on your queries and manuscript, and much more. They will literally change your life. Okay, not literally. Please join!
– That is all! Enjoy!
Bran Flakes says
I'm all tingly with anticipation!
I've picked my favs and can't wait to compare them to yours!
Jenny Hansen says
Wow, Bran Flakes…what a way to start my morning. Seeing someone go tingly about the paragraph contest gave me my first smile. Thanks!
Avery June says
I'm having a lot of fun reading through. Thanks!
Laura Campbell says
My paragraph will be up soon; working on revisions at the moment. It's exciting and intimidating to see your competitions' submission. I'm not sure if I can measure up, but getting a glimpse of what everyone is working on encourages me to keep working. Having fun while I avoid digging myself out of over a foot of snow!
Are you saying your agent eyes have gone all flabby, Nathan? You're going to be sore in the morning after this workout.
Red Boot Pearl says
I only got through about a hundred and they started to swim off the page, I have a whole new respect for agents/interns who wade through slush!
Michael A Tate says
Most of the entries are pretty good. A couple are very good, and an even smaller number are bad. Overall I'm pretty impressed with the quality of the entries.
The Red Angel says
Best of luck to all entrants 🙂 I was sooooo tempted to enter, but I didn't think any excerpt I had from my writing could match up to the other entries. T_T Maybe next year when I have something a little bit more valuable. 🙂
LOL, how many duplicate posts duplicate posts have you seen? 😉
Wow, SO many people have entered! Awesome.
All I can say is, umm…WOW. I have gained a new appreciation for agents after reading these entries.
Naomi Canale says
Yay! I even had fun the other day reading some of the paragraphs the readers liked and they were really good!!! Sorry if I posted, erased, and re-posted. The first one I posted wasn't a finished MS and so I posted a paragraph from a finished one and then read that it doesn't have to be finished, so sorry. I'm going over to those threads you speak of asap. 🙂
This Kevin agrees with the previous Kevin. HOW. THE. HECK. do you read gazillions of paragraphs like that and somehow come up with a list of finalists! Amazing. I'm in awe of what agents do on a daily basis. There's a lot of good paragraphs. Janet Reid, another agent, wrote in her response to my query (which she passed on, sadly, but she was very nice about it) that passing on a query or a book isn't necessarily a referendum on that person's writing…it's more like the way a person feels when they're in a bookstore, they find a dozen books that they wish they could read, but they only have money for one or two. I thought that was an encouraging analogy to focus as a writer…especially when one is facing the inevitable rejections that come. The challenge is to stubbornly remain positive, almost to the point of insanity…like a madman laughing and dancing on the deck of a ship in the middle of a hurrican (like Lieutenant Dan in Forres Gump, when he's sitting on top of the mast of their shrimping boat, laughing in the middle of a storm). Anger/bitterness wastes energy. As one of the characters from "How I Met Your Mother" says: "When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story."
It is going to be very difficult to choose the finalists!
This could mean two very different things…
And after taking Nathan's advice and reading through the "slushpile" until my eyes bled, I know which way I think he means it.
To repeat what others have said before me, I have gained a whole new appreciation of agents and what they do.
Thank you Nathan.
Nathan, I like to think we have an advantage over the previous three years of stupendously awesome entries. Your eyes are (relatively) fresh!
I'm enjoying this slush much more than the slush in my driveway. Much easier to plow through. Thanks again! Very fun!
HA! Good analogy, Stephanie. And I totally agree with you. Now I just have to figure out how to get past those magic shovels the agents use.
You're so right, Kevin. Mad respect to everyone in the query trenches– those who create the blizzards and those who dig out of them!
D.G. Hudson says
It appears to me that there may be many definitions of what comprises a paragraph.
When reading some of these entries, it's obvious that the long paragraphs should probably be more than one.
I've also noticed some very long sentences, along the lines of Charles Dickens – which could be paragraphs in themselves.
I find I read more if the entry isn't too long and crammed together to make it look like one paragraph.
I don't envy you Nathan, as I'm getting through all the entries. Good luck; you might need some eye drops after this.
You're so funny, Nathan.
I love when you have contests. Everyone's all excited, and it feels festive! 🙂
I want to agree about the forums. They are very fun, lots of smart discussions, good feedback on your work. It's really kind of you to host them, Nathan.
So, I hope you're not going cross-eyed with the entries. If you want some help, my advice is to cut out any entry that uses the letter 'S' too many times. 'S' is a slippery and snakey sort of letter and I find it's best not to trust it.
Hope that helps! Looking forward to the results!
February Grace says
You're gonna have a long weekend!
I hope you take Mrs. Jedi Master out for a nice dinner or at least pry your eyes away from the screen long enough to smile at her once or twice in the process of all this! (Sorry these contests get so big, Mrs. Jedi, we just can't say no when the Master sounds the call!)
I hope at least we're keeping you thoroughly entertained with all that goes on in our writerly brains (and not scaring you. Too much, at least.) It'll be fascinating to see what spoke to you out of all those entries.
Matthew Rush says
I wasn't going to enter, but then I decided to give you an unofficial graph. I made sure to post it seven times because repetition is fun, and you don't have that many to read yet.
I'm going to guess that this contest just might mean you miss us.
OR better yet, after your Odysseus voyage (if it must be) ends, start your own publishing house.
Other Lisa says
Will the forums at least figuratively change my life?
Nathan Bransford says
They will literally figuratively change your life.
J. T. Shea says
Yes, Nathan, I know all 1,296 of them very well… wait… 1,297… 1,298… hello Mike! Patricia! How are you guys? Long time, no see.
You've read 500 entries? I hardly read my own. Admit it, Nathan. Either you're cloned or doing whatever Hermione Granger did in HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN. I've forgotten what exactly that was, since it's years since I saw the movie and I'm only part way through reading the book for the first time at this moment.
Mira, spot on! Overuse of the letter 'S' is the main fault of modern literature, in fact it's the major cause of the whole decline of Western Civilization.
Other Lisa, the Bransforums may LITERARILY change your life too.
I finally got some time this afternoon to read more paragraphs. Some are really quite compelling. I find, though, that I like the ones that are slower and more nuanced.
The others are sucker punching me in the head before I even have a chance to enter the scene and get my bearings. If the writing is that blunt force I always feel there won't be much discovery along the way. But, like someone else mentioned, I guess it depends on your own personal tastes or the "genre" you regularly read.
I must admit that this is indeed the best blog I have come across in the short time I have been umm, blogging. (is that a word?)
Thanks, Sir, for a good read filled with thought provoking insite.
Oh, and some of the koolest words to use for sign-in.
**how's that?" 😉
Barbara Kloss says
Peggy I totally agree. I'm a new blogger as well and Nathan's posts are extraordinary! This 'contest' has been particularly informative and eye-opening for me.
Great job Nathan! Thanks for slaving away so we can all learn some very, very valuable lessons (and yes, I include myself!) 😉 I'm also no longer envious of an agent's job.
Augh! Darn timezones. I thought I had 30 minutes left. Turns out I'm 30 minutes late. Oh well.
Roberta Walker says
I'm all big-eyed with awe over what agents do every day. I wish I could apologize for my first premature query! Luckily only 7 poor agents suffered… 😉
Sheila Cull says
I don't understand how to get a lot out of the discussion Forums?
Sommer Leigh says
Yes, join the forums! Maybe they don't change your life but they will make your life better in all sorts of ways. Some of the smartest people I've met spend their play time on the Bransforums! Join! Join!
And on that note, thank you so much Nathan for hosting your forums. Really, it is one of the coolest places on the blogosphere.
J.T. – Good to see you're back. There was a J.T. sized vaccumm for the last couple of weeks…
Sheila, are you asking how to register for the forums so you can participate? Go to the bottom of the page, and look to the far left. You'll see a link there to register. Once you're registered, you can click on discussions and reply or post your own discussions. It's similar to the blog.
"Still time to enter the Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge! As of this writing 1,296 of your closest friends have already entered, so why not you? I'm sure your paragraph is just as good as theirs!"
If you're wondering why I haven't it's because I'm only 13 🙁 Otherwise I would.
J. T. Shea says
Thanks, Mira! I, my main computer and my car were all sick for a while. All three were dispatched to various experts, whose work is still not quite finished in all three cases. I am now considering a new mix and match strategy, whereby I send the computer to the hospital, the car to the computer repairers, and myself to the garage. Maybe all I need is an oil change and repairs to my big end…