First Page Challenge 2020: The results are in!


It was an honour to read so many awesome submissions. Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter. We had a whopping 174 entries—up by 88 from last year! Here's how that looks for the prize pool:

1st place – $835
2nd place – $100
3rd place – $50

And now for Michelle's big announcement!


It is always both a pleasure and a privilege to judge a Darling Axe writing contest. This year I had my work cut out for me with so many talented finalists to choose from, so many great first pages that would have made me turn to page two. 

The top three entries were quite different in style, but all three featured excellent writing.

1. The Silver Trail by Adam McCulloch

There is an authenticity to this writing that I loved: the landscape of a family of six, jammed into a car, with the youngest being forced to face backwards, captures so much that is true of a large family. The teasing and dialogue are spot-on, but what clinched it for me was the "rear-view mystery" that only the narrator is privy to: the truth behind what the other family members see on the road.

Click here to read The Silver Trail

2. Good Gravity by Brian Lott

This entry won me over with the narrator's strong voice. I also love the premise: a ten-year-old boy so desperate to make his escape from an abusive family that he is trying to hotwire a car. Great sensory detail and strong dialogue make this a story I would love to read more of.

Click here to read Good Gravity

3. Time. And Time Again by John A Hobson

I admit, I'm a sucker for strong dialogue, and this is a dialogue-centered entry. But there is more to it than that. There is sharp observation—no Vivaldi when the narrator is put on hold. And there is concept: the narrator calls 999 to report a murder—his own.

Click here to read Time. And Time Again

Kudos to everyone who submitted their work. It was a pleasure to read so many great submissions.

—Michelle Barker

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