Inspired by our Mike’s on-going tutorial on writing in the interest of encouraging us to help change our culture toward the good by writing, FOTM conducted our very first Writing Contest.
Contestants were asked to submit the opening paragraph(s) of a story or novel.
There were 11 entries. Before we continue, as the owner of FOTM and recognizing that creative writing is an arduous task, I want to congratulate every one of the 11 readers who submitted an entry. I thought they were all well done, in that each entry piqued by interest to read more.
FOTM writers’ job was to winnow those 11 into a smaller group of 6 finalists, so that you — the reader — can then vote for a winner.
Here are the finalists in the order of the number of votes they’d received from FOTM’s writers, although that should not influence your choice, followed by a poll.
(This is from my short story, A Dog Named Bill)
He didn’t belong to the aristocracy of dogdom. The uncharitable called him a mutt, but those of us who loved him didn’t care that he’d never win a blue ribbon. His warm brown eyes were alight with devotion and his square, tufted muzzle seemed to wear a delightful grin when he looked up at a friendly face. His favorite pastime was rounding the park at night and he often came home bearing the aroma of a skunk that he had unexpectedly met up with. He could never understand why we would give him the cold shoulder until he smelled like a dog again.
Bill had affection for us all, but Sister was the one he chose to worship and adore. When she married and left home, Bill left too. It was a case of “whither thou goest, I will go.” Sister and her husband, Joe, moved to Birmingham, Alabama and Bill had the indignity of riding in the baggage car. Sister wrote, “When Joe and I got Bill from the crate, he alternately licked us and pee peed. I was so embarrassed.”
Bill’s happy, secure world fell to bits when sister became ill. He grimly understood that something was wrong when his beloved could no longer play with him. He’d pad softly into her room and lovingly lick the hand that lay so quietly on the bed. Then he’d give a sigh and lie unobtrusively in a corner. The day came when that dear hand was gone and once again Bill took a train ride — this time back to New Orleans. Bill was welcomed by Mama, Brother, and me, but he never stopped looking for Sister. He walked weary blocks to the place where he had started his life and went into the house he had known as a puppy.
2. Tim Shey
Here are the first two paragraphs from my non-fiction book High Plains Drifter: A Hitchhiking Journey Across America:
Hebrews 11: 8: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
I had been working on an apple farm in northern New Mexico when I thought it was time to hit the road. Or maybe I should say that the Lord inspired me to hit the road. As you grow stronger and deeper and more intimate with God, He uses your eyes, your ears and your circumstances to teach you things, and show you things and to point what direction you should go in. Who can resist God’s will? I knew that I knew that I knew that I must go, so I headed north into Colorado and by that evening I had made it to a community called The Spiritual Life Institute of Crestone, Colorado where I stayed one night.
The next day I hitched to Leadville, then Vail and then stopped at Glenwood Springs, where I turned off Interstate 70 and headed towards Snowmass. There is a Cistercian Monastery near Snowmass where the monks let me stay for four or five days. It is a beautiful place up in the mountains. The first day there I helped put away some pipe and the remaining few days I did some work in the garden. I remember well that it was very hot–it was the first week of July in 1986–and every half hour I would take a towel and go to a nearby water hydrant and soak it in water and then wrap it around my head to keep me cool. The monastery is–I am guessing–around five thousand to seven thousand feet in elevation so the air is thinner and the sun is hotter than at lower elevations. It really wore you out. That’s why many people wear broad-brimmed hats when working outdoors at that elevation.
The shocking news began as whispers, passed from one Being of Light to another.
“Psst, there’s a mutiny! The First Born has rebelled and is taking a third of us with him!”
The whispers became louder and louder, like waves crashing on waves, until they became a deafening roar, as confusion and panic radiated down the ranks.
“What are we to do?”
“Should we follow First Born or stay true to Unus sint Deus?”
“Isn’t there someone who can lead us?” . . . .
Then, from amidst the lower ranks a voice spoke. At first small and hesitant, the voice grew stronger and bolder, “Who is like unto God?”
Raising his sword, the voice cried, “I am Micha-El, and I will lead you. Follow me!”
And so began the first battle in the Great War of the Angels that shook the very foundations of the cosmos.
4. I 53:5 Project
Not fully awake, I heard the voice but ignored it; it was part of a dream.
“Last stop!” I heard the voice again as I opened my eyes, expecting to find myself safely at home in the quiet darkness of my bedroom.
The zipper on the backpack I had been using as a pillow had dug into my cheek, my neck ached, my head was pounding.
I sat up and, as my eyes began to adjust to the light, I realized I was somehow on a bus.
“Alright, I’m going.” I shot back at the impatient driver as I moved through the impossibly white all plastic interior of the bus to the door.
“Enjoy your stay, Sir” I heard the impeccably dressed driver with a face as pale, cold, and lifeless as the hard plastic interior of the bus say as I stepped out into blazing hot sunlight.
Head, neck, and cheek aching, my eyes now burned as if I had just walked out of a movie theater in the middle of a sunny afternoon.
Where was I? What I had I been doing on a bus? Except for a handful of times in my 40 years, I never, ever traveled anywhere by bus, not since school anyway.
I sat on the curb, reached around to my back pocket, retrieved my cigarettes, opened the crushed and half empty pack, and; broken, broken, broken…all of them.
“Perfect.” I thought to myself.
“And the creepy bus driver took off with my backpack, wallet, keys, phone.”
I had to get out of the heat. I looked around and, as far as I could see in either direction, other than an endless rocky brown desert, was a freshly blacktopped two lane street with a sidewalk on either side, lined with blood red Japanese Maples, evenly spaced, all the same height and shape, none capable of providing any shade.
So I started walking. There had to be something or someone, somewhere, and some relief from the oppressive heat.
Although I could feel the heat of the sun it was impossible to determine its location, judge what time of day it was, or know what direction I was traveling in because, horizon to horizon, there was nothing above but blinding, hot, featureless, white.
So I walked.
Everything changed today. Change is a fascinating narrative for our lives. Slow, monotonous change. Beginning at the moment of our conception, our decisions, their outcomes, reactions and so on; this collective of instants make up the unique and precise intersection of these accumulated changes. This infinitely momentary juncture determines who and where we are, at any given point in time. Sometimes change is much more abrupt. A car accident, murder, these things are violent and malevolent in their intent. Only one person wins the lottery everyday but, there are countless devastating events that could affect any one of us during that same day. Every so often, life changes suddenly, sometimes it’s hard to tell if that change is violent and malevolent or benign and gentle in its purpose. Perhaps in the moments following these types of changes we determine its impact on our lives by how we react. Or, conceivably, we are doomed to fate. Without free will, our entire universe predetermined, nothing unique, nothing beautiful, no responsibility; Barren and lifeless. At least that was how I used to think, before the first time she came to see me.
There is a monster that roams society, without any regard for decency. It eats pregnant women whole and spits them out… Without the baby. It is not stoppable, and the government helps it. It is a disgrace. It’s name is Abortion.
Here’s the poll, which will end this Sunday night. The winner will be announced next Monday, followed by the return of our Caption Contest on Tuesday morning!
For the other writing contest submissions, go here.