We have posted the WINNERS at the bottom. Before you scroll down, here’s how it was worked out. Each judge chose their top 3, and we assigned 3 points for a 1st, 2 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd and then tallied across the judges. This is how we arrived at our winners and why there are more than 3.

One thing to note, and this is such an important thing to remember as a writer, is that everything is SUBJECTIVE. As you will read, the judges all had very different opinions of who they liked the most, and this is always true.

We will also publish a separate post with all the shortlisted openings on it, as we know you’ll be dying to read them!

Here’s our judges individual choices.

Jo Gatford

1. WRITTEN IN BLOOD AND INK by Jolie McCarty (YA FANTASY)

Feedback: Stonker of an opening line, followed by a handful of select details that immediately build an atmospheric image. A harsh world, the mystery of the Watchers, and Willow’s connection to her father. It leaves me wanting to know more, and puts me straight into the protagonist’s point of view.

2. IONA AND THE SILVER LINING by Emma Umpleby (MG MAGICAL REALISM)

Feedback: Beautiful and evocative use of language that produces vivid images of the falling figure. I like how it follows Iona’s thought processes with a rising sense of horror. How can you not want to read on after this opening?

3. CREEPER by Ellie Lock (MG COMEDY ADVENTURE)

Feedback: This one very cleverly gives the reader a lot of information and characterisation in a very short space of time, without being overtly expository about it. We sympathise with Daisy and her situation while also being amused by the description of Vance – a great mix of tragedy and comedy to kick off the story. 

 

Sarah Lewis

1. REDBLUFF by Oscar Allen (YA FANTASY)

Feedback: This is immediately gripping and straight into the action. The prose is efficient and to the point. It’s written in close third person about someone who has just died makes it it compelling.

2. GIRL CODE by Jeanna Skinner (YA PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER)

Feedback: I’m generally not a fan of gimmicky formats and digital conversations in novels because I don’t think we’ve found a way of doing it yet that doesn’t come across as cheese-tastic but this feels authentic and somehow I feel like I could know these people, even in such few words. Impressive.

3. WRITTEN IN BLOOD AND INK by Jolie McCarty (YA FANTASY)

Feedback: Also straight into the action plus a lovely observation about life and the character – that her father’s affection is more important to her than life and crime. Intense! 

 

Catherine Johnson

1. JAZ AND THE MYSTERIOUS TABLET: FARAWAY WORLD by Deb Drick (MG FANTASY)

Feedback : I put this first because I wanted to know why his life was super lame! But also it’s very hard to do this and be engaging without relying on death or violence so kudos points for that!

2. REDBLUFF by Oscar Allen (YA FANTASY)

Feedback : I chose this because I liked the writing – simple as that. also because I have no idea where it’s going,  except that now our protagonist is dead which might be interesting….

3. IONA AND THE SILVER LINING by Emma Umpleby (MG MAGICAL REALISM)

Feedback : I liked this too but put it third because I have no idea what kind of story this is going to be, is it an adventure? Why does it matter to Iona – I don’t know…

Chloe Seager

1. CREEPER by Ellie Lock (MG COMEDY ADVENTURE)

Feedback: I liked this opening because within only 50 words I was already drawn in – I already cared about Daisy and what was happening to her. It also seemed like it could be funny and emotional at the same time which is my favourite kind of writing.

2. JAZ AND THE MYSTERIOUS TABLET by Deb Drick (MG FANTASY)

Feedback: I thought the first and last sentence of this were well crafted to make the reader want to know more! Also, already got a good sense of character.

3. (Equal) 

IONA AND THE SILVER LINING by Emma Umpleby (MG MAGICAL REALISM)

Feedback: This created really powerful, striking imagery and really caught my attention. I put it third because it maybe felt more YA than MG to me, but this is so so subjective and very hard to tell from 50 words! I definitely wanted to read more…

TROGLODYTE by Lydia Massiah (YA SUPERNATURAL / HISTORICAL)

Feedback: I thought this was well-written, and I instantly wondered why they were meant to find the cave! I thought that line was so strong, I probably would have used it as the first line.

OVERALL WINNERS

1st Place (equal)JAZ AND THE MYSTERIOUS TABLET: FARAWAY WORLD by Deb Drick (5 points)

1st Place (equal) REDBLUFF by Oscar Allen (5 points)

3rd Place (equal) CREEPER by Ellie Lock (4 points)

3rd Place (equal) IONA AND THE SILVER LINING by Emma Umpleby (4 points)

3rd Place (equal) WRITTEN IN BLOOD AND INK by Jolie McCarty (4 points)

6th Place – GIRL CODE by Jeanna Skinner (YA PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER) (2 points)

7th Place – TROGLODYTE by Lydia Massiah (1 point)

Well done to the WINNERS but also well done to all those short listed, long listed and those took part in the Twitter section, too. Hopefully with the feedback offered, every single participant has gained something from #1st50, whether it’s a more polished opening, several new writing friends or overcoming the scary step of putting your story out there.

Once again, we want to thank you and wish you luck with your writing, whatever you do next. Speaking of which, remember our judges run the Writers HQ courses and have several discount offers going on, so follow them on Twitter for more details. You already all have a 20% one to use.

Remember to check back for the post revealing the shortlisted opening 50 words!