Friday, March 2, 2018

Compelling Openings Writing Competition

By Angelyn Sherrod

Hit me with your best shot! No, seriously, do it.

What’s the target? No, not my nose.

Compelling openings.

Malice in Memphis, a mystery writers group located in Memphis Tennessee, will host the first semi-annual 2018 Hit Me With Your Best Shot Writing Competition. This award has been established to reward excellence in writing and to challenge both seasoned and emerging writers to produce their best work.

In this competition, we want you to grab us from word one . . . because every word counts.
The first sentence should compel the reader to finish the paragraph. You raise a question. Hint at a mystery. Your reader finishes the paragraph and before they know it, they’re at the end of the first page.

Pages keep flipping by, the clock is ignored, the TV is silenced . . . the phone goes unanswered.


It’s not your complex plot. Nor your well-developed characters or story arc.
. . . that comes later.

When a reader sits down, opens your book for the first time, scrolls through the front matter to 

Chapter 1, they are looking to answer one question:

“Why should I keep reading?”

That’s the shot we want you to take.

The writing competition opens March 1, 2018. The cost to enter is only $10. Send us the first 300-500 words (No more. No less.) of a larger work e.g., short story or novel, by 11:59pm central standard time May 1 2018. Malice will complete first round judging In Memphis members.

We are honored to have celebrated author, producer, Allan Gilbreath, founder, publisher and managing editor of Dark Oak Press and Media, as our final round judge. The top 5 finalists will be announced on the Malice in Memphis website by June 1, 2018. The first, second and third place winners will be announced on or before June 15, 2018. Though Malice is a mystery writers group, this competition is open to all fiction genres. 1st prize: $100 2nd prize: $503rd prize: $25 Plus, other awesome prizes. As a bonus: we’re going to help you master compelling openings, tell you exactly what we’re looking for. Each week, throughout the contest period, we will submit posts on the Malice in Memphis blog. You’ll learn the elements of producing a compelling opening, the Do’s and Don’ts, tips and encouragement. Head on over to for complete rules and description of the submission process.

So, you’re ready? I think so. Hit us.
Angelyn Sherrod is an award-winning short story writer, lifelong reader and storyteller. She has always been drawn to mysteries and thrillers because of the innate themes of justice and righting wrongs. Therefore, it only seemed natural to start killing off people in her stories: it's cathartic and oh, so satisfying. Not to mention, it helps to maintain her sanity. You can step into Angelyn's world of justice and fair play in the Malice in Memphis Anthologies:  Bluff City Mysteries, Ghost Storiesand Elmwood Stories to Die For. Also, look for the upcoming anthology, due Spring 2018: Malice MAY-hem. Angelyn's short story, THE GAZEBO won the 3rd Place prize in Southern Writers Magazine's 2013 Annual Short Story contest in the printed Short Tales. Check out her blog: Angelyn's Crimes of Passion ( for other short stories and flash fiction, or follow her on Facebook