First Page Challenge – 2021 Finalists

The Results Are In!

The First Page Challenge—a writing contest for novelists, by Darling Axe Editing


Thanks so much to everyone who entered! It was an honour to read all of your entries. There's so much promise and mystery wrapped up in a first sentence, first paragraph, and first page. It's exciting to think of how many immersive and engaging stories are floating around in the brains of writers the world over.

Here are the winners along with a quick word about each from our judge, Carmen Craig:

1st place—THE PINK HOUSES by Claire Nuttall

This piece had me locked in from the first line. I love writing like this that is both clear and beautiful. The images are very immersive: the boy with the mop, the limes in the gutter. And I also appreciate how sentence structure and rhythm contribute to the strong voice and rising tension. I would most definitely turn the page!

2nd place—VIEW FROM THE PORCH by Thomas Gabrielson

View from the Porch does a lot in a small space. This is such a good example of an author creating instant immersion with clear and concrete sensory details. There are no explanations or "telling" here; it's cinematic, creepy, and I definitely want to know what these three kids have been through.

3rd place—TREES, MONSTERS, AND A SHIP by M. Halka

This first page is a lot of fun. I like how it begins with a playful voice and zoomed out perspective and then narrows in on this boy pulling a cupcake out of a garbage bin in an alley. There's artful language, an awareness of rhythm, and great descriptions. As the boy sheds a tear, we know what this treasure means to him, and when he's caught a moment later, the tension spikes.

PS. Our next contest, Clash of the Query Letters, is now open!

About the Darling Axe

We are professional editors as well as award-winning writers. We understand the intense effort and emotional investment you have poured into your work. It's our job to help you take your manuscript to the next level.

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