ThrillerFest XV • July 7 – 11, 2020 • Grand Hyatt • New York City

Best First Sentence Contest

To enter the 2020 Best First sentence contest, please email your submissions to bestfirstsentence@gmail.com. You may only submit one entry. To qualify to enter, you must be an ITW member or registered for ThrillerFest XV (2020). Winners will be announced on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at the CraftFest luncheon. Any winners not in attendance will be notified shortly thereafter.

Thanks for your entry, and good luck!


Below you’ll find the winners of the Best First Sentence Contest from ThrillerFest XIV (2019).


Best First Sentence 2019 Judges Choices:

Steve Berry:
Sometimes dying is the easiest part of life.
–Eric Bishop

Grant Blackwood:
The mud-brick hut smelled of blood and sex.
–Tracey Devlyn

David Corbett:
Don’t get snippy with me, Elevator.
–Mysti Berry

Karen Dionne:
I went to medical school on a dare.
–Gloria Casale

Robert Dugoni:
I knew I was in trouble when Dad held my diary up in a meaty fist.
–Yvonne Lindsay

Steven James:
Anyone who claims there are no stupid questions has never worked in a public library.
–Victoria Gilbert

Gayle Lynds:
Last night Hieronymus Bosch met the rich and famous.
–Thomas Kies

Donald Maass:
Everyone had a story from that night: some saw a man, others saw a girl, still others saw nothing at all but didn’t want to squander the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves.
–Micki Browning

Hank Phillipi Ryan:
Gracie Falcon was halfway over Vail Pass white-knuckling her Jeep through a late spring snowstorm when she heard through intermittent static on her car radio that she’d been killed in a plane crash.
–C. C. Harrison

F. Paul Wilson:
Prouty had a drinker’s face, a graveyard cough, and a heart a hangman would kill for.
–Jeffrey B. Burton

Chris Goff:
San Ruben, California is a long way from Boston, whether you measure it in miles, years, or bodies.
–Jack Soren