March Merge Contest

Welcome to the March 2013 merged Contest…

Feb-Mar contest image

Our new Winner’s badge!

“Best Opening Paragraph”

This page is for contest entries.

Hi friends — we’re now past Deadline for this contest.

Feel free to comment on entries, if you like! Now that judging is complete, I’ve marked our Finalists using Replies to each of their entries. Well done, everyone!

How to enter the March Contest:

Have you read the General Contest Rules? By entering this contest, you agree to abide by those rules, plus any special conditions listed on this page.

Use this page’s Comments section to submit your entry.

  (see Directions, immediately above that section)

 Contest dates and times:
  • New entries accepted until Saturday, March 16 at 11:59 am
  • Judging begins on that Saturday at noon
  • We’ll announce Winner and finalists Monday evening
  • Among non-finalists, one random entry will be awarded a $10 bonus prize
  • Winner’s submission will be published and featured on this website at that time
 Specific Rules for March’s merged Contest 2013:
  • This content is for ALL WRITERS
  • FIRST ENTRY IS FREE for site subscribers
  • Contestants may choose to add one extra paid entry.
  • Submit your opening paragraph as your entry, up to about 200 words or so.
  • You must own full copyright to your submission. Prior publication is fine.
  • Do not identify yourself in any way as part of your submission’s text.
  • SoWrite reserves the right to edit entries if necessary (see General Rules).
Please carefully read and follow these Entry Directions:
  1.  Use the Speak Your Mind box for your entry (at end of this page).
  2. If you are logged in (“Post as [your name]”), LOG OUT before placing your entry.
  3. In the Name field, enter the first 3 words of your paragraph, not your name.
  4. In the Email field, enter the email you prefer for contest communication (kept private)
  5. Leave the Website URL field blank.
  6. Copy and paste your paragraph into the Comment Box.
  7. Proofread, then Click on the green box that says “Post Comment”

Need help with your entry?

Email SoWrite editor Jim Bessey at: jimbessey @  (omit the spaces)

You can also find Jim on Facebook and Twitter. Use the Social Icons top right of this page.


»Award badge graphic by:  Jim Bessey


  1. This paragraph is says

    This paragraph is just a silly sample. You can use plain text and italics, if you like. No need for a title, just start right in with your paragraph. Try not to go too far beyond 200 words; have pity on our judges. That’s all for now. Good luck!

    PS: If anyone needs entry edits, just let me know. Use the Jim Bessey @ email for that. Never lose on typo’s, ok? 🙂

  2. 1. Ominous clouds are says

    Ominous clouds are building outside her window. The wind is picking up in gusts, whipping the branches around in a haunting melody, with rolling thunder playing the rhythm section. Static energy is caressing her like an unwanted lover, right down to the tips of her long hair. She knows she should not look outside, but she seems paralyzed and can’t help pressing her nose in fascination against the cool glass of the cracked window pane, mesmerized by the changing colors of the clouds from charcoal gray to sulfur yellow to eerie green.

    One word keeps echoing in time to the drum beat of thunder: survival, survival, survival …

    Her right hand is groping for her familiar pocket, searching out the comfort of cool metal against her sweaty palm. Did she load the gun? It would not do to be caught around the destructive powers without one. In a sudden outpouring of rage, sheets of rain fall from the sky, washing down sideways in an angry torrent. A bolt of lightning splits the oppressive air, followed by a loud crash of thunder.

  3. 2. The dirt road says

    The dirt road snaked through the rolling hills and it was only when it made the bend that the house showed itself. If wasn’t that it was hard to find, it was the trees sheltering it from view. Upstairs, from the balcony, the view of the river was always changing. It was a comfort to hear the rushing water unless it was raining. That’s when the river became the adversary. It was a long ranging war, the house and the river. Built long ago, the house had earned its place on the dusty road. Floods had tried to take it but it stubbornly refused to move. The rocks that supported it would not give and the house remained firmly in place,

  4. 3. Maggie turned. says

    Maggie turned. It wasn’t her usual turn, all solid, stiff and straight; as if a rod of iron ran from the base of her spine to the top of her head, on which her body would pivot. Oh no. Neither was it the turn she, occasionally, under great duress, gave to her students; slow, definite, loud and heavy. Nor was it the turn, seldom seen but much treasured, that smiled and tingled; smelling of wild rose and candy. This turn was different.

  5. 4. She stood on says

    She stood on the shoreline of the beautiful Caribbean as the sunrise played harshly with her random thoughts. The seemingly relentless soft breeze and humidity tossed and curled her hair. Many troubled thoughts still lingered after a heated discussion with her man. His angered accusations had hit a raw nerve, and left her with pain at the site of a very old wound. “ You have commitment issues, ” he said in what he thought was a calm yet all too powerful a voice. Not liking what was the obvious truth she pulled away, using other reasons to hide behind. Distancing had always worked for her, it was a way to protect herself, always allowing her to retreat to the sanctuary of her own thoughts, folding up inside her safe haven. Letting go of the boundaries around her heart did not come easily, but she could feel them slowing dissolving over time with this man. He was not threatened by her often aloof behavior and she let her guard down, slowly, yet always leaving an opening to go back as she had done in the past. Today,hanging on to only shear threads she suddenly felt insecure again and knew she was standing with him in her naked truth.

    • Hi Jim,
      I am having some tech difficulties following the interesting “paragraphs” . Again Congratulations to all the winners. Thank you for the “prize”, it has been my pleasure indeed.
      Ruth Olivia

  6. 5. I made the says

    I made the mess myself. I couldn’t say no. I almost felt like it was an obligation. The only problem was, I didn’t know where the obligation to them stopped and to myself began. Now this is what is left. They shredded me to bits, parts of me were scattered around the world, parts of me I once liked and parts of me I now loathe. My only wish, most of the time, was to be left alone, to wallow in my own pain and self-pity or to disintegrate into the cold, dark confines of a shallow grave. I got my wish I suppose, but she gave me hope, a hope I don’t remember ever having before. That hope, the hope she gave me, the recipe of which should be tucked in an old wooden box and placed high atop a shelf for posterity’s sake, that’s the hope that helped me survive the end of my life.

    • This is our winning entry, First Place, by the judges’ unanimous decision. Your cash prize is $31, and you may display the Winner’s badge as you see fit. (I’ll send details) Congratulations on a very fine entry!

  7. 6. Damon stood in says

    Damon stood in the shadows of the large white oak trees, and got plunked on the head by an acorn for his trouble. He stayed there absently rubbing his head undaunted, and continued to spy. Someone had to make sure David was all right. How his mother could just let David go to a camp he’d never been to without protection, without someone he knew and trusted, without Damon himself, was beyond his comprehension. Since he was old enough to understand that David was different, that David needed protecting, Damon had always been exactly that, David’s protector. He was the only thing that stood between David and the vast, cruel, mean world. That was his job as little brother to a special older brother.

  8. Raymond the judge says “Good thing nobody has to feed this one…

    Beady. That’s how they’re best described; eyes, small, yellow-brown beady eyes, that is, and that’s how they watched him from the shadows as he moved silently through the open door. It wasn’t left that way, he was sure of that. The latch was broken, torn off. You don’t tear 16″ of 3/8″ thick moose hide hinge easily. He cocked the .44 and smelled the invader just as he stood. Yep, the eyes up close to the ceiling were beady, and the teeth in the wide-open, snapping, roaring jaw were huge.
    ‘Okay, ‘ya didn’t have to break the door, Ben!” the man said, laughing at the grizzly. “I’ll take ‘ya for ‘yer walk now!”

  9. 7. Kevin ap-Rhys believed says

    Kevin ap-Rhys believed that true love is permanent, fixed and immutable love. He could testify in court that an obsession is not adoration. He mourned his many love affairs that were born in shallow passion and were swept away into the tragic abyss. He mourned the death of many false affairs with lying women.

  10. 8. The faintest glint says

    The faintest glint of moonlight shone through the open door, illuminating the body lying motionless on the carpet. Ballantyne peered down at the dead man, taking note of the trail of blood emanating from the wound penetrating deep within his abdomen. Funny, he could have sworn he recognized that face from somewhere. Simon Kalinskey, 45-year-old cab driver, according to his notes. Not your typical victime, Ballantyne thought. Why would anyone want to murder him? Ballantyne yawned, stretching his knotted muscles and furrowing his brow in perplexity. This was going to be a long week.

  11. 9. When they entered says

    When they entered the orphanage of the tiny, insignificant town—just a few hour’s drive from the legendary Sleepy Hollow of headless horseman fame–Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds had a specific child in mind, the perfect child for them to adopt. They wanted a boy between one and four years old with dark hair and eyes just like themselves. They knew it was silly, but they wanted a child that other people would think possible to be their natural child. A child with similar characteristics, at least of the physical kind, would be perfectly believable as their child, and not an object of curiosity. That was their plan, but as Robert Burns, the noted Scottish poet, once said, the best laid plans often go awry. Unknown to them, their carefully constructed plan was about to be turned on its head.

  12. 10. Janey walked up says

    Janey walked up the wooden steps, her steps. They creaked, but she didn’t care. They were hers, and Dan’s of course. She looked over at Dan, and slid the key into the door lock. It opened, and she smiled. He put his arm around her as they peered into the house. It was their house now, but more importantly, their first house, and it felt good. It was just down the road from Old Man Watkins, and that was just what Janey wanted. Not too close, about half a mile as the crow flies, but close enough. Close enough for what she wanted, no needed, to do. Yeah, this was going to work out just fine. She looked at Dan and smiled. She had been waiting for this for over twenty years.

  13. 11. The forest lay says

    The forest lay thick with canopies of trees. The humming of birds and buzzing of busy bees could be heard all around. While the sun shone bright, and the world stood happy, eight best friends spent their time playing in the wide forest glade. This was a place they had known all their life. This was a place they called home. This was a place where they grew up and lived the free life. Next to the glade was a stream. In fact, it was just barely the trickle of a stream most of the year. You could hear the water drip down from stones and rocky edges. There was something musical about the timely drops of water from a height. But now that it was spring, ice melting from the neighboring mountains watered the land with overflowing ebb. Nothing could be more breath-taking than what this forest glade presented. The scent of flowers and fruits was undeniable. This was enough to engulf the place, spreading tranquility and content around the forest.

  14. 12. My cousins said says

    My cousins said her name was Tizzy Lish. I wasn’t sure if that was really her name or if Bobby and Richard had just made it up, but it seemed like the right name for the old lady. She lived alone in a shabby house a few doors from my aunt and uncle, whom my family visited just about every weekend. Every day at about eleven she would come out her front door all dressed in black except for a funny gray hat that looked like the top of a toadstool, and she would walk two blocks to a dairy store and come back carrying a pint of milk in one hand. The other hand always held a furled umbrella–summer or winter. Her shoes were black and heavy–the kind my mother referred to as “sensible,” but which she would not have been caught dead wearing.

  15. 13. Jake Terry didn't says

    Jake Terry didn’t want any trouble, but trouble was knocking on his front door. The horse he had liked in the fifth race didn’t like him back, so now he owed some cash to a bookie named Cal. Jumping through a window from the eighth floor wasn’t an option, so he had no choice but to open his door to a couple of Cal’s associates. When he did, they lunged toward him. Jake pushed back, but the larger one grabbed his right hand and pulled the door shut on his fingers.

  16. 14. So much for says

    So much for the first time being special.
    Instead of breathless throbbing from slippery toys and hot tongues, I feel about as unviolated as a maiden in a chastity belt. When did my hot guy with the smoky bedroom eyes evolve into this sweaty snoring lump? Escaping the twisted sheets, I suck down my watery cocktail hoping to wash away the sticky bitterness. C’mon Gretta, think. Think of your options. Almost like a sacred sign, my husband’s loud snort sent me the obvious solution.

  17. 15. They said it says

    They said it was spontaneous combustion. At first.
    Then it hit the cities where cell phones are thicker than the jellyfish lying sack-to-tentacle all over Long Beach. Onlookers shot their bobby-eyed videos, replete with screams, and flooded YouTube with the same flashing blurs until the sidebar filled with ten, thirty, then a hundred. You could watch it happen in New York, Tokyo, Minsk, and New Dehli—even at the feet of that huge statue of Jesus in Brazil. Go figure.
    People started hiding indoors, away from the sun, as if an x-class flare could reach out and tap them in some truly fucked up version of duck-duck-goose. NASA had no comment, of course. Their goose had been cooked years ago after Ti?nmìng snarfed up the government in several big gulps—no yum cha for those Bug-Eaters.
    Anyway, I’ll never forget my first. She was spinning like some old-timey ballet chick. Did she have ear buds on? Can’t remember. In my nightmares her long hair fans out, a shampoo commercial on 22nd Street. Then it catches—sun-blinding flames in a five-foot twister. Damn it’s quick, like two seconds.
    Nothing left but a scorch mark.

  18. kerry michael wood says


  19. I’ve marked our finalists as Replies within the Comments section, above.

    Contestants, please feel free to reveal who you are, now that judging is complete. You may also reply to individual entries with your feedback, especially if you have your own favorites among our Opening Paragraphs.

    I’ll have a formal announcement and distribute all prizes tomorrow evening, including our bonus random-drawing $10 award to one non-finalist. Thank you all for a wonderful competition, start to finish!

  20. Congratulations to all the winners! 😀

  21. Tim O'Dell says

    Congratulations to the worthy winners! You all did very well and there are some interesting first paragraphs here! Well done!

  22. Great job, Dawn and all the other winners! 😀

  23. Tim O'Dell says

    No problem Jim! I enjoyed it and I certainly will be returning!

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