Don’t you just hate finals!


It is now down to the finals.  I have selected three entries into The Third Annual Victor Villasenor First Sentence Contest that meet the criteria of engaging a reader to want to see what happens next. I am posting not only their first sentence, but the following paragraph that gives the first sentence context.




Julie Mark Cohen

Simply, Seyfert.

“Two of your three final-stage larvae failed to thrive.”

First full paragraph:

“Two of your three final-stage larvae failed to thrive. Both girls.” The SeyTTT-ian male clad in a professional pink toga said, batting his long, curly, greying eyelashes as he pointed with his bare arm toward a table in the sterile room used for forensic pathology.


This one works because it immediately establishes genre in just a few words.  We know it is science fiction because, with the exception of some of my closest friends, insects are not capable of verbal communication.  A mystery is also established, and there is a foreshadowing that something will happen with the one that did survive.


The Departure


Terrie Leigh Relf.

It was mid-December, and well past time to go through mother’s things. . .

The boxes had been delivered over a week ago, with explicit instructions that they were all to open them together. No exceptions. Grady, Blaine, Sylvie, and Chloe sat on the cold living room floor staring at the stack of containers. It seemed as if their collective focus on the lids would wrench them off so no one needed to lift a hand. These boxes were all they had left of their mother, and the thought that she had packed and labeled them months before her disappearance was finally beginning to worm its way into their conscious minds as fact. Each and every one of them loved their mother with all her entertaining and oft annoying quirks, the least among them her insistence that she would be leaving prior to December 21, 2012, the official arrival—and departure—date for the so-called Mayan apocalypse.


And this one works because without even mentioning it, we know that mother has died and there is stuff in the attic that will undoubtedly launch a story.  Or something equivalent.  The next paragraph starts to flesh that out, and we are not sure mother even died.




Liliana Molina


There it hung silently, the pearl earring on the ear of the universe, as we made our way to Alfredo’s Market on Linden and Aspen.

I was about six years old on that winter night. My father held my hand while I walked with my head tilted up towards the night sky. We were on our usual pan dulce run. As I remember, I told my dad, “Apa la luna nos esta siguendo,” “Dad the moon is following us.” I was confused, my childhood innocence didn’t understand why or how, wherever we turned, no matter how far we had walked, up above the moon was there, persistent. I remember him responding, “Ay que luna tan luna, no te preocupes yo le digo que ya no nos sigua,” “oh that moon, don’t worry I’ll tell it to not follow us anymore.” And he proceeded to tell the moon not to follow us. It didn’t bother me that it did, but my father was a silly man who always looked to sarcasm and silliness to make me feel better. Little did I know that the moon wasn’t going anywhere, if anything I’d go before it. This memory stayed with me forever and became one of my favorites. When I look at the moon now, I see it is the same one I stared in awe at that winter night of childhood wonder. I can’t help but wonder how many civilizations slept under the same moon, and if a child from ancient days wondered as I did, and if there father explained to them the ways of the universe. The moon has stood a silent witness to humanity. For the Aztecas, it was metztli in nahuatl the indigenous language.. For my father it was La Luna, the very same moon that was the only light that lit his journey through the desert. For me, it’s an entity that lives in me as a reminder that while we as humans are not eternal, we are all the same, and that we share the same moon. La luna es la misma, the moon remains the same.



Quite honestly, and at the risk of alienating the many fine writers who competed in this competition, After reading this sentence if I were the judge, I would read no further and declare new-comer to our site, Liliana Molina, our winner.  My tastes are subjective, but I am the one who gets to pay the rent here at The Towers and with that comes the privilege of promoting my own tastes upon our readership.  The sentence is stunning, elegant, but it not only provides a description but immediately involves action.  It could not possibly be improved upon. And then by implication you sense that the father in the tale crept by moonlight across the border to come here.  Truly a master story-teller in the making, who migrated to us from

BUT…The one who REALLY gets to become unpopular is Stefanie Allison, our final judge for the contest.  Our tradition at The Word is that the winner of one contest becomes the judge for the next.  I may end up modifying this position as I soooo miss all the bribes of flesh, chocolate, money and booze that always preceded announcing a winner.

Now…our finalists will have a new challenge, and will be judged solely on their response to the new prompt.

Here it is: Simple. Create a scene with dialog of a child leaving home to make their mark in the world.  150 t0 350 words.

You have three days to submit your story, which i will post as soon as it arrives.

Buenos suerte



7 thoughts on “Don’t you just hate finals!

  1. Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    As the judge of this contest, *I* get to enjoy the fruits of the bribery…

    And lovely finalists?

    I’d like my Ford Mustang in sea green.

    Good luck to all of you!!!

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