Let's have a WRITING contest for the next great American novel!

FOTM is taking a brief vacation from our world-famous caption contest. Instead, we’ll have a new kind of contest.
Are you ready for the challenge?
It was a dark and stormy night
Do you have the “write” stuff?
FOTM’s Mike has been posting a series of tips for writing to encourage all of us to help change our culture toward the good by writing. In his words:

Today we have a nation that has turned its back on God, honor, and beauty, and embraced all manner of sin. This is due, in large part, to the influence of culture and art. This is not an accident…. It is deliberate…. This series, The Write Stuff, is about reclaiming that culture. It’s for writers and novelists who are dedicated to using their talent to honor God, elevate men and women, and add beauty to the world. If that sounds like you, welcome aboard!

Despite our best intentions, however, all our efforts are for naught if no one reads what we write.
And that’s where Mike’s tips come in — to help us write well, so people will read what we write and, together, we’ll turn our wretched culture around.
Thus far, Mike has provided us with useful instructions and advice on:

Here are the Writing Contest instructions:

  • Enter the contest by submitting the opening paragraph (or two) of your story or novel as a comment on this thread (scroll down until you see the “LEAVE A REPLY” box), not via email or on Facebook.
  • The winner of the Caption Contest will get a gorgeous Award Certificate of Excellence and a year’s free subscription to FOTM! :D
  • FOTM writers will winnow the submissions to a select few, then you — our readers — will vote for the winner in a separate poll.

To get the contest going, here’s Mike’s opening paragraphs of his teen detective novel:

It was a crime that Mr. Kingman never expected, and that scared him half to death.
The math teacher had returned home after a day at work to find his living room window shattered, his front door left ajar, and his apartment ransacked.
The thieves had stolen Mr. K’s laptop computer and his prized collection of rare stamps. There were glistening stains of blood on the broken glass strewn across his floor, and more blood splattered across the top of his desk where his laptop had been.
Even now, two days later, as his heels clicked down the hall to his eighth grade class at St. Mary’s Elementary School, he felt a cold shiver run up his spine as he thought about the crime.

After reading that, don’t you want to dash out and buy Mike’s novel? :D
So put your thinking caps on, and write that first brilliant paragraph (or two) of your best-seller!
This writing contest will be closed in a week, at the end of next Tuesday, May 19, 2015.
For the winners of our last caption contest, click here.

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0 responses to “Let's have a WRITING contest for the next great American novel!

  1. Here is the opening of a fairly lengthy short story I finished at the end of last year. My first attempt at fiction.
    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.
    “Last stop!”
    I sat up and, as my eyes began to adjust to the light, I realized I was somehow on a bus.
    “Last stop!”
    “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.
    And walked.
    And walked.

  2. Here are the first two paragraphs from my book HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER: A HITCHHIKING JOURNEY ACROSS AMERICA (this is non-fiction, so if you guys don’t want non-fiction, then go ahead and delete this):
    Chapter One
    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.

  3. (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.

  4. truckjunkie

    “It was a dark and stormy night….aaaahhhhh-never mind.

  5. It was a very bright day, the cloudless blue sky allowing the sharp rays of the sun to pierce one’s eyes. It was the kind of day that made one grateful for sunglasses. I don’t remember what day of the week it was. I don’t remember the month or even the year. But I remember.

  6. 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.

  7. Some excellent writers here! I hope we get more!

  8. She knew she was cool. And she was smart. And she was hip.
    She proudly grabbed her purse and keys, on her way to vote for Hillary Clinton, who she hoped would be the first woman president of the United States. She thought to herself that she was making history.
    Before she turned the keys to start her Toyota Prius, she took a selfie, let everyone know she was on her way to vote, and posted it on Facebook. Her heart beat as she waited for all the “likes”.
    As she turned the key to start the Prius, she realized its dang two thousand dollar battery had died again.

  9. Pingback: Let’s have a WRITING contest for the next great American novel! | therasberrypalace

  10. 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.

  11. Carla Fellers

    From: Uncle Potter’s Journey:
    Chapter 1
    At the edge of heaven
    Early fall in the earthly year 1999
    A newly arrived soul paced on the edge of Heaven as it gazed earthward monitoring the progress of a cross-country trek of two women—nieces of a multi-millionaire, hermit bachelor from a tiny town in Georgia, now deceased, flesh and blood reduced to a handful of ashes in an urn sitting near Yellowstone Park instead of on the way to the Mormon Temple. The soul, the spirit of said Potter Wimsey’s earthly body, was, to put it mildly, madder than hell.
    “Aw, Jesus H. Christ! Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I’m just so —–. Damn—I mean, for Pete’s sakes, I can’t say nothing right, especially since I’m madder than a hornet swatted out of its nest. Jesus Christ, I’ve never seen such a couple of ninnies.”
    The soul heard a voice from somewhere. It looked around. No one was there, of course. This was heaven. There’d be no people standing around chatting. Yet, a voice had definitely sounded. Potter’s soul strained to listen.
    “What’s that? Oh, no, I didn’t need anything. No, sir. No, ma’am. I was just expressing my complete and utter exasperation at the stupidity of my relatives. I knew none of them were very bright, but I thought I’d picked the two with a little lick of sense to take care of things. But, right now, I’m not too sure that I chose correctly. Cripes. What am I going to do? I’ve got to get me back to Belle and Anna May.”

  12. Patty Buchheit

    This story will be called “The Intimate Invasion”, set back in the early 1980’s involving the public school system, brainwashing of grade school children, & the enormous cover-up that took place.
    “What’s wrong?!” The back door slammed as 6 year old Carla came charging in after school, her sister Carrie, who was 8, right behind her.
    Carrie’s face was tear stained and red as she looked up at me and cried. I asked, What happened? What I was told sounded unbelievable.
    I’m not allowed to walk Carla to her class anymore.
    It wasn’t that she couldn’t walk her little sister to class, it was the reason. I was told that my daughters were “too close”, that they needed to separate and not depend on each other so much, that it was “unusual”.
    That first situation began an 11 year investigation that brought all of us to a federal court and changed 1 of my daughters personalities forever.

  13. BobToonist

    Dick and his recently acquired buddy, Al, were making their way back to their quarters after a long, grueling day of classroom instruction. Dick hadn’t been in a school environment since, what, 1933? That was nine long years ago… at Fairview High, in Dayton, Ohio.
    “I guess the brain does actually rust if you don’t use it”, he mused to himself. At age 27, he hadn’t achieved anything close to his potential. So many unrealized goals set when he was young and idealistic, followed by a succession of dead end jobs. But, now it was 1942, there was a war on, and his world was changing. His life would probably never be the same again. That day four months ago, in June, when he enlisted in the US Army Air Forces, would guarantee that.
    Now it was early October, and the weather was still hot; unusually so for a guy accustomed to the more temperate Fall afternoons in Ohio. But, of course, this was Miami Beach, Florida, and he had recently arrived at the USAAF Officer Candidate School there. In just three months, if he made the cut, he would become “an officer and a gentleman” by Act of Congress. A “Ninety Day Wonder” ….. if he made it. He was full of doubts about that.
    The callesthentics were not a problem. He had always kept himself pretty fit. But, the classwork…… that had him concerned. That, and adjusting to the military mindset. History. Traditions. And, of course, “Military Courtesy”.
    He and Al were both lost in their own private thoughts as they walked along. Neither one of them noticed the rather large man in uniform approaching from the opposite direction.
    Then, they heard an authoritative voice order “Halt!” And then, “Stand at attention when you’re spoken to!” …”I said, ‘Brace it’, mister!”
    The exaggerated position of attention that they were required to adopt – it was called “Bracing” – must have originated at a military academy somewhere near the nether regions of Purgatory.
    For the next few minutes, which seemed like an eternity, Dick and Al had to endure a classic dressing down from a superior. “Lack of respect”. “Military Courtesy”. The whole damned rule book.
    Even with this guy’s face only inches away, Dick could notice the immaculate khaki uniform, with its razor-sharp creases that could cut you if you brushed against them. The gleaming brass. The perfectly straight “gig line” from collar to trouser fly. The shined helmet liner on his head. The perfectly shined…… blue helmet. Blue helmet!
    “Oh shit”, thought Dick. This guy is a Senior Candidate, and he’s really taking his exalted position seriously. He seemed to know the whole routine, backwards and forward.
    Senior candidates, identified by the blue helmet they were permitted to wear as a badge of status, were to be shown the same respect and courtesies shown to a “real” officer – including the hand salute, which Dick and Al had failed to render…..”in a military manner.”
    The whole time he was being chewed out, Dick could only think of two things: this guy’s face was awfully familiar. Dick knew he had seen him … somewhere. And, he had the worst case of halitosis Dick had ever experienced. Whew! Really bad!
    Finally, the ordeal ended. The Senior OC barked, “Dismissed!”, and turned away.
    “Man, this is going to be a helluva long war if we have to deal with pricks like that!” Al exclaimed. “I hope I never have to see that son of a bitch’s face ever again!”
    “That’s not very likely” came a familiar voice from behind them. It was the class adjutant.
    “Did you two enjoy your conversation with Clark Gable?” he laughed.
    (No, I did not make this story up. It actually happened, in 1942. “Dick” was my father, and he did indeed survive OCS, graduating at the end of 1942. He served honorably for four years, and was discharged with the rank of Captain)

  14. This is what I would call my prologue:
    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.