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First Line Literary Contest

Thursday, February 1 – Thursday, February 29, 2024
Berlin-Peck invites you to compose your best original opening line to an imaginary novel!

February 1, 2024

Events > First Line Literary Contest

Event Information


Thursday, February 1
to Thursday, February 29, 2024
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    Thank you to all who entered, and congrats to the winner of our third annual First Line Contest!

    Why in heavens name were her shoes on the wrong feet?

    All Participants

    She approached me at the bus stop, put a single dollar bill in my hand and told me to go buy myself a shot of sweet and strong Cuban coffee.

    She told me not to get any romantic ideas in my head since I just bought her a dollar slice of plain cheese pizza and it was very late at night.

    Why in heavens name were her shoes on the wrong feet?

    My mother left my baby brother in his carriage in front of the grocery store and went home without him.

    They loved when I turned my feet around backwards. They didn’t know if I was coming or going!

    I wouldn’t have believed it until I met the stranger but, as it turns out, some conspiracy theories are true.

    The trouble was they spoke different languages with the same vocabulary.

    When I woke up I realized I was covered in blood and tamales.

    Although I was born a Pisces in the sunny state of California, I can barely swim and have never managed to get a deep, dark, exotic tan.

    If the kid said one more word, any word, I thought I would kill him, consequences be damned.

    The trouble with time travel is… well, you’ll find out soon enough.

    It was a Tuesday afternoon and Linda’s world was coming to an end.


    Ursula K. Le Guin once said: “First sentences are doors to worlds.” Here’s your chance to write your own!

    We invite you to create and share your best opening line to an imaginary novel. You can enter as many separate first lines as you like, as long as each sentence is original and one sentence long. If you enter multiple lines, please refresh the page and enter them separately.

    It was a dark and stormy night…

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

    Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

    Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.

    Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    For more inspiration, check out our previous years: 2022 | 2023


    Compose an original opening line (to an imaginary novel) in only one sentence.

    Submission deadline is February 29.

    The winner will be announced March 7.

    1. Participants must have a library card.
    2. Ages 14 through adult can participate.
    3. Entries must be submitted by the deadline of February 29.
    4. Submissions will be judged by a blind review panel.
    5. Participants may submit multiple entries but can only win one prize.
    6. Submissions must be one sentence in length, with a maximum of 300 characters.
    7. Subject matter must be appropriate for display in the Library and on Library social media. We will reach out to you if there are any concerns.



    Every participant will receive a custom bookmark with their best sentence illustrated with a photo or artwork. Multiple entries are allowed, but each participant will receive one bookmark.

    The winner will be announced on March 7.




    Online registration is not currently available. Please contact the library with any questions.

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