*** COMPETITION NOW CLOSED ***
Thank you to those who entered & voted in our 2021 Opening Paragraph Competition. Read the shortlisted entries below:
SHORTLIST - UNDER 12 YEARS
The Book by Hugo Owen
They were packing up to go on a journey. When they got in the car, one of them yelled the book!, The book! We forgot the book.
The Run-Away Child by Leyla Armati - WINNER
I woke up in the middle of the night cold and tired, that’s when all the memories came flooding back to me. I had run away from the old dirty orphanage that I had lived in since I was two on a journey to find a new home and was sitting alone in the middle of a dark creepy forest. My blond hair was sticking to my face and my green eyes that my mother had named me Avery after had lost their sparkle. I was tired and lonely and even considering running back to the orphanage. The only problem was that I was lost. Yep, completely lost. I had no idea where I was or where to get food, water or shelter. I heard a noise coming from behind a tree and froze. “Who’s there?” I asked. From behind the tree came a dirty boy in rags with a brown leather book tucked under his arm. “Who are you?” I demanded. “Arlo,” he replied. Suddenly I heard a wolf’s growl and screamed but Arlo said, “Don’t worry, that’s my pet wolf”. I felt a sense of relief but then we both heard a deeper growl and this time Arlo yelled, ``run!`` We ran until we reached an old wooden cabin with beds made out of soft comfy moss with deerskin blankets. Before I went to sleep, Arlo said, “you should know, there is a legend about a monster that lurks in these forests.” And he pulled out his book.
Night time by William Faulconer
The trees rapped in the wind, their branches snapping and cracking like lyrics to a song. Leaves waved like the hands of a Rapper as the wind roared through the night. The moon hid behind the stormy night sky, struggling to peep out. Grey and black clouds stretched over the sky like loose elastic bands. Owls journeyed through the wind looking for prey, but most had hopped into burrows away from the incoming running storm. Richard sat staring through the shaking window at the angry sky, a book open on his knees and a fire burning warmly.
SHORTLIST - 12-18 YEARS
A Journey to Earth by Alexis Hanley
“New York January 16, 2020, Tsunami Erica.” Willow started her speech.
“The quakes in the Atlantic had erupted as it did on the 15 of December 2019 only bigger. The quakes had shifted causing large amounts of water to push onto land. Erica tragically wiped-out half of New York leaving huge amounts of damage across the city. Hawaii March 10, 2020, another Tsunami called Felix hit Honolulu. Not only did it knock down many buildings, but it carried a huge majority of garbage flooding it across the capital. Honolulu remained calm and built from it but weeks later a tornado hit Honolulu that formed from Texas travelling its way over the North Pacific Ocean. That's when the full effects of climate change pretty much destroyed our home planet. Luckily we were prepared and escaped onto Alya. Some say there were survivors that took space shuttles and completed the journey back to Earth after the tragedy. All the books I’ve read say it’s a myth but of course I don't believe that. Thank you.” Willow said finishing her speech.
Dreaming in Green by Coralie Smith - WINNER
The astringent scent of tea tree filled the air as the group of hikers trudged their way along the track, snaking through the thick heath covering the headland. It closed in on them now, arching overhead and obscuring the horizon, trapping the heat. It had been four hours since the journey began and the initial chatter of excitement faded as the bush grew thicker, scratching against arms and forming small snares of tangled roots along the sandy path. Lost in her own thoughts, Amelie focused on the crinkling sounds coming from the map folio hanging around her neck. As expedition leader, keeping the topography charts and compass safe at all times was her priority but also her salvation; a small distraction from the worry of bringing along the two youngest members of her patrol. Her quiet thoughts burst as one of the lanky teens whooped with delight and a seagull simultaneously screeched overhead giving the effect that the boy himself was squawking when he glimpsed the beach ahead. Despite herself, Amelie smiled too at the sight of the turquoise shallows; a photo straight out of a travel book and her footsteps quickened to keep up. With legs aching, the final descent over a series of large boulders was almost complete when she looked up to find a strong arm outstretched towards her. Gratefully, Amelie grasped his palm and jumped down onto the red rock platform, the sharp grains of sand pressing indentations into her own skin.
50:50 by Rowan Faulconer
It had been a long week and after five full-on days he decided it was time for a reward, not the kind you get when you open the door to your house and you’re greeted by a loving family, but the kind that requires money… and luck. The local pub squatted on the high street of Milton, it was a small rural town – yet to be urbanised, although well on its way. Shaking the rain from his second-hand jacket, he ordered a pint and watched the tilt of the glass and the beefy hand of the barman as the head cascaded into the drip tray. An emotional journey stretched across his face, as easily read as the pages of a book by the barman; fatigue overlayed with hope spinning like the reels of the pokies he was heading for. A nod and a ten-a passed across the bar. He took the cold glass in hand revealing the tattoo of his wife’s name, ‘Marlene’, on the underside of his forearm, he’d gotten it just after they’d got married and it had been sitting there ever since. He headed to the far machine.
SHORTLIST - OVER 18 YEARS
The House of Her Dreams by Terry Malone
The journey had not been kind. Every mile deeper they rumbled into her hometown, Sarah’s blood burned, her body failed, and every cell confirmed what neither of them would say aloud... We are dying. Whether you speak it or not, we are dying. All of the knowledge in all of the medical books ever written will not help you. All the skill in all of the hands of the greatest surgeons cannot stop it happening. All of the money ever printed will not buy you more time. The machines have failed you. The Gods have failed you....and what did that leave, Sarah asked herself as they turned into her parent’s driveway. They stopped at the magnificent gates and idled. The soulless eye of the security camera judged them, weighed them. She reached across and clutched at John’s hand on the steering wheel. He took it, concern for her, and a deeper fear showing in his dark eyes. For a moment they held hands, his strong, warm, and vital, hers cold, weak, and fragile. Both wondered if her mother would let them in at all. Even now. Then the speaker hissed, without preamble, “I told you, he’s not welcome here!” He flinched, and then set his jaw stubbornly. “And I told you-” Sarah returned with all the force she could muster, “-it’s us or nothing!” One breath. Two. Three. The gate clicked and silently swung open...
The Forgotten Bookstore by Anna Malone - WINNER
As she pulled up, Charlie double checked the address. Her stomach churned; had she written it wrong? Was she too early? Too late? Was this- god forbid- a prank? The building, apparently once a bookshop, was hardly recognisable as a store. A faded sign hung on a rusty roof, held up by rotting beams. There were a few broken windows- rocks had been thrown, but strangely, none of the other usual signs of vandalism, such as graffiti or food wrappers-as if no one wanted to get very close. The house was a corpse, left alone to decay. Lost in thought, she yelped as she felt a small tap on her shoulder. “Whoa, whoa, sorry!” The man put his hands up, smiling nervously. Charlotte held a hand to her heart, still trying to hammer its way out of her chest. “I didn’t know...anyone else was hired.” “Really? Well, they told me about you. Charlotte right? I’m Jeremy.” He stuck out his hand. Charlie grinned wide as she shook it. Askew glasses and messy hair, he had a contagious goofiness about him. They were silent for a moment, looking at the lonely surroundings. Despite her previous assertion the house was akin to a corpse, she felt a strange, almost magical, anticipation in the air. She couldn’t help but feel they had begun a journey they didn’t yet understand- but one that was too late to back out on.
Untitled by Adam Jeffrey
The sun beat on the window like an angry crowd. He wanted to wind it down - the car was of the vintage that still had a knob and a handle. Let some of that cool sea air in that he knew was out there somewhere, on the other side of the glass. But it was impossible. What, with his hands cuffed tight behind his back since before the journey started. They told him he was lucky they’d got to him first. Before the cops did. “They’d throw the book at you, Jimmy,” they said. Before launching another thunderous fist into his ribs which folded him over neatly so they could slide him into the back seat of the old Kingswood.
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