Presenting our December Jackpot contest winner: “This I confess…”

To help celebrate the holiday season, I’m very happy to announce our judges’ choice as the winner of our December Jackpot contest, “Best Opening Sentence.”

Congratulations to writer Julie Helms for her First Place entry:

Hillary Clinton announcement“This I confess, and nothing more!” she cried aloud to the howling throng.

Julie’s entry was chosen by unanimous decision from among our three contest finalists. Here’s what our judges had to say about this winning opening sentence:

 This is the top pick, first prize. There is not much doubt about this one. This is a wonderful lead-in, high ‘wow’ factor (5/5) because it has instantaneous brilliance, sets the scene immediately, displays dramatic intensity, tension, emotion, –and piques the imagination immediately by suggesting wrongful condemnation and, imminent danger. It offers an unknown but very high- potential back story. This is a powerful opening sentence and has easily earned first prize. This is very well done.

For her winning entry, Julie receives the $35.50 First Place prize and our sincere congratulations.

In addition, I’ll invite her to participate in SoWrite’s next contest as a judge, rather than a contestant.

Here are our runners-up, along with the judges’ comments:

Taking the silver medal, from writer Alistair Marquise:

Just as the pages of an unscrupulous businessman’s ledger are blown backward by the frigid breath of a shattered pane, so too does the brittle night fall upon this city in ever-increasing layers of aphotic guilt.

With a high “wow” factor, this sentence is clearly our first runner-up because it displays wonderful imagery. This IS really beautiful writing, even with the seemingly unnecessary word “aphotic” included. We had some reservations about the inclusion of that rare word, which we both had to look up for definition. Inclusion of that word did not, however, destroy the potential.

There is little doubt this opener is elegant –and offers potential for an amazing story. The ‘frigid breath’ ‘brittle night’ and ‘ever-increasing layers’ offer wonderful imagery.

Taking the bronze medal, from author Robin Tidwell:

She took the phone call out in the hallway.

This was the toughest choice. Why? On the surface, this sentence can be dismissed as extremely simple and common. Everybody takes calls out in the hall.

“The call” however, IS a wide open, dangerous unknown that is capable of invoking tremendous fear in some readers for specific reasons. The absolute unknown is a powerful factor in raising emotion. This sentence is subliminal, neat, concise and is very adaptable to the beginning of a story in any genre.

In all, we had 21 entries for the December contest — more than triple the number we had for our debut November contest event. Our judges, Tammy and Raymond, agreed that this was a fun contest to decide — but the decisions weren’t easy. Our contestants once again displayed a high level of talent.

I hope you’ll take the time to read and comment on ALL of our entered sentences: Contest Page is here.

We had a $10 Bonus Prize, too, as a big Thank You for entering. In fact, I ended up awarding TWO of those bonuses. Want to learn more about how that worked out? Here’s the link to my posting:

Thanks once again to everyone who participated in December’s Jackpot contest. It really was quite a lot of fun. Please watch for January’s contest, to be announced after the New Year.

Speaking of that: Happy Holidays to all, and to all an amazing New Year!

»photo credit:  marcn

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  1. Julie Helms says

    Thanks so much to the judges for your time with so many entries and for giving me a detailed comment! And thanks once again to Jim for a really fun contest! Now who do I thank for the picture of Hillary above my sentence?? 🙂

  2. Congratulations, Julie Helms! Wonderful work, a powerful opening sentence, and a well-deserved win! We had absolutely NO idea who wrote these openers –a great part of the fun and excitement. It is, – in retrospect, not surprising you wrote this, given your thoughtful style of writing. Very well done. We are delighted to be able to award you first prize for this example of writing excellence-that’s what it’s all about. Again, Congratulations!

  3. Congratulations also go out to our runners-up finalists, Alistair and Robin. Both of you wrote amazing, powerful openers with much merit, offering totally different– but equally compelling reasons for being chosen as finalists! Wonderful, carefully chosen words, subliminal treasures –very well done. The final decision was very close and extremely difficult because of the quality of all three of these finalist submissions. We are proud of you!

    Congratulations also go out to each of our entrants for their wonderful and highly individual entries. It was fascinating to see how each opening sentence offered different merit in such unique writerly fashion. The judging decision was very, very difficult because of the huge variation noted in style. It was a pleasure reading and studying every entry! We thank each of you and Jim– for the opportunity to participate in this fun and exciting competition.

  4. Alistair Marquise says

    Congratulations, Julie! It’s a well-deserved win. Congratulations also to Robin. The competition certainly was stiff.

    Thank you to the judges who took the time to comment on my entry. This was a lot of fun.


  5. How wonderful for you, Julie! Congratulations, but I definitely would complain about the Hillary picture. 😉

  6. A hundred villagers says

    Congrats Julie! So happy for your win!

  7. Congratulations to Julie, Alistair, and Robin!

  8. Congratulations Julie, Alistair, and Robin!

    I love all three of those opening sentences, and was pleased to be introduced to the word ‘aphotic’.


  1. […] to refresh your memory, here’s how our fast and festive December contest ended. Our judges awarded First Place (and the Jackpot) to Julie Helms, for her intriguing opening […]

  2. […] Helm’s  winning First Sentence from December begins the […]

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