NaNoWriMo First Line Literary Contest

Wooden surface with notepad and pen laying open on top of it.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and every novel needs an engaging first line! In our third annual First Line Contest, you write your best original first line, and we’ll select two winners—a staff favorite and a publicly-voted favorite—to win a prize to a local business. All submitted First Lines will be displayed at the Library for patrons to read and enjoy!

Entry and Submission

Due by November 15 

  • Electronically: Send your entire First Line to with the subject heading “First Line Contest Entry.” We will email you back with confirmation that we received your First Line.
  • In-Person: Fill out a First Line sheet at the Reference Desk at the Library.


  • There will be two winners: a public favorite and a staff favorite. The same first line cannot win both.
  • First Lines will be displayed on the pillar by the audiobooks for patrons to see, and the voting ballots will be placed nearby.
  • Every patron will be able to vote for their favorite First Line once with a ballot available at the Reference Desk.
  • The voting period will be November 16 through November 30.
  • The winner of each category will be announced on December 1, and each winner will win one of two local gift card prizes.

Examples of First Lines in Literature

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.” –Donna Tartt, The Secret History

“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” –Louise Erdrich, Tracks

“Call me Ishmael.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“Marley was dead, to begin with.” –Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“It was a pleasure to burn.” –Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451

“All children, except one, grow up.” –J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” –George Orwell, 1984

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” –C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” –Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“All this happened, more or less.” –Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

“The circus arrives without warning.” –Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“Before my wife turned vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.” –Han Kang, The Vegetarian