Flash Fiction Challenge: The Return Of The Opening Line Contest

Last week’s challenge: Life Is Hell.

I love this challenge because it always generates some interesting results.

It’s easy in concept, difficult in execution:

Come up with a great opening line.

That’s it.

Take that line, and drop it into the comments below.


As they say, THERE’S MORE.

This opening line must be one sentence long — no more than that. Anything longer and I will publicly laugh at your inability to stick to the barest-of-bones submission guidelines.

I’d suggest avoiding some very cliched openings — previous challenges have yielded three overwrought motifs in this particular challenge, those three being:


A gun.

Someone about to die / someone already dead (future corpse / current corpse).

So, maybe avoid those things unless you really think you can nail it.

The trick to writing a great opening line is keeping it brief, and yet at the same time suggesting a great deal of potential — an opening line is equal parts promise and fish-hook stuck in the reader’s brain-meats. It should make us want to read the rest of the story. Or, even better, make us as writers want to write the rest of that story (and par usual, that will be the nature of next Friday’s challenge). Nailing the opening line is a Samurai move — it’s delivering a single sword blow to end the match.

There will be a prize.

I’ll pick three that I love. And those three will get the first as-yet-unreleased e-book copies of my newest writing book, 500 Ways To Write Harder. You’ll get the book in PDF, ePub, and Kindle formats, all DRM-free because, really, fuck DRM right in its digital sphincter.

You have one week to get your lines in the door. Due firmly by noon EST on April 18th. I will then pick winners over the next week thereafter. You are allowed one entry, no more. Additional entries disqualify you.


One opening line.

Make it sharp.

Win a book.

Drop it in the comments.

594 responses to “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Return Of The Opening Line Contest”

  1. Staring at the stranger in the mirror, he realized something inside of him was broken and it wasn’t anything a hot shower and a razor could ever fix.

  2. Snuggled in the warmth of flannel sheets and a thick comforter, Jenna yawns desperately waiting for the sleep that has yet to come.

  3. The Snarling Dog was the type of tavern where only the most desperate, vile, and wretched people went looking for help, therefore I walked in.

  4. If you’ve never taken the treacherous path across the sunset plain to observe the migration of the majestic and mythical Bowdeer, then I’m telling you now: don’t fucking bother.

  5. Plummeting, Daria closed her eyes and resigned herself to the fall, concentrating only on the effort of becoming lighter, weightless, free.

  6. A cool silk wind ran through my open window to brush against my goosebumps – today was a day made for flying.

  7. “Well, shit,” Tracey grumbled as he watched the tail lights disappear into the desert night, leaving him shivering naked in the sand; “That asshole stole my lucky lighter.”

  8. A bullying silence muffled the final, fatal wretches of the engine, the propeller whirled slowly into focus before stopping, the horizon flew past the windshield revealing the patch work quilt of burning fields below,

  9. This time, I knew that I could make it through at least three of the seven pies, four if my stomach generously decided to digest at warp speed.

  10. He smiled through his sigh as his son looked up at him uncertainly, and gently peeled back Tavi’s soft, sooty fingers, which were still stubbornly clutching a charred chunk of woman’s hair.

  11. I hope I’m plain: having a face of beauty or ugliness eternally hidden by a mask is a way too melodramatic for any person with good taste.

  12. Butter’s kisses always felt like either promises or apologies, and it got so every time she laid those pearlised wedges on me I had a mind to wonder if I were about to experience bliss of a kind that would raise my soul, or the righteous anger only she could wrought of me.

  13. I’ve been told silence is golden, but this silence was dirty black oil, filling the room and seeping into our ears and our eyes and our souls.

  14. The herds of bison and elk were fleeing Yellowstone in record numbers, but they weren’t fleeing an impending eruption.

  15. I’ve been thrown through six bank offices, thirty-seven investment firms, twelve fast food franchises and, currently, through one funeral home, all in the name of Truth, Justice, and Major Insurance Fraud.

  16. Liz Riley’s lungs were tight, legs pumping as she chased the young man down the paved alleyway, zig-zagging around the puddles that a mid-May Tucson downpour had left behind.

  17. […] Mark Gardner It’s the expected conclusion to Chuck’s Opening Lines Contest. I chose William Hardman’s line for my open. Instead of doing homework and studying for a test on Tuesday, I wrote 978 additional […]

  18. […] Pick an opener, writing a 1,000-word entry on it, then link back to his blog about it to enter into the running of being one of his top three favs. Yes, I said favs in the hope he reads this and it makes his nose curl. I’m normally against lazy “shorts” for words (“tots” instead of totally, “def” instead of definitely), but I’m curious if he’ll comment on disliking the usage of such words in something other than a specific character’s vocabulary. […]

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