Writing Challenge: What’s at stake?

In our blog post on Crafting Strong Openings, one of our tips was to establish the stakes for one of your characters in a provocative opening line with the “tell-all” method. Our example was:

“He needed a pregnant woman – and fast.”

This example is succinct, amusing, and intriguing! It establishes the hero’s goal, but leaves so many questions unanswered that we’re compelled to read on.

Your challenge this week: Sum up the stakes for your hero or heroine in one provocative, tell-all line. Post your opening line in the comments below between now and Sunday, July 22, 2018, and we’ll pick our Top 3 on Monday!

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  1. Aria Glenrose

    He didn’t even say sorry as the microphone bounced off my temple; no, the boyish smirk on the singer’s lips as he turned hazel eyes on me told me everything I needed to know about him–he was one cocky bastard.

  2. Chrissie

    Jacqueline Stuart walked past the two ladies ogling the live male model in the display window of Brooks & Meyers department store and after overhearing their excited comments, she couldn’t resist a quick peek.

  3. His reason for breaking his prearranged marriage off was too specific, and while he could have denied her if she had come and demanded to see the woman that had gotten a bastard on, he could not deny the girls father, who was no fool and would surely bring a Maester to confirm the trollop as well and properly quickened, if that was, he could produce a trollop to lie for him.

  4. Maggie

    “So in order to get my grandfather’s house, I have to marry you!”
    “Not really!”
    “Well, his will says we’ve to live under one roof, where I have to help you with all the chores, cock, clean, and entertain your guests, etc…etc…”
    “Exactly… but it wasn’t specific with what tile I would give you.”
    “What does that mean?!”
    “It means for the next three months I’ll have the great Alessandro Del Mano as my maid”. She shrugged two -on the verge of shaking from mirth- shoulders “Take it or leave it!”

  5. Maurine

    She had to convince the detectives she hadn’t killed the man in the room with her no matter what the circumstantial evidence said–as soon as she regained her memory.

  6. QueenBay

    I squealed in delight, when after fifty minutes of dodging and pain-staking creeping along the shadows of the elusive mansion, I finally held the infamous silk boxers in my hands.

    • QueenBay

      I needed to make an addition to establish the goal:
      I squealed in delight, when after fifty minutes of dodging and pain-staking creeping along the shadows of the elusive mansion, I finally held the infamous silk boxers in my hands; it was time to expose their owner, now matter how wealthy or good-looking!

  7. Sophia W

    The Earl of Malbrook really needed to find out which of the ladies in front of him was his wife, almost as much as he needed to find out who was trying to kill him.

  8. Charles

    The vanquished warrior princess lay with his sword at her throat and considered his challenge; death by sword or marriage, both equally bad, although there many ways to become the grieving widow.

  9. Jackie Burrows

    When Rocco Benedetti, billionaire owner of Benedetti Enterprises, decided to exploit media attention for marketing purposes, he hadn’t expected to be arrested for shop-lifting in one of his own stores.

  10. Wendy Krueger

    Andrew knew the moment he looked into those eyes that his life was about to change in ways he only dreamed about deep inside; the power radiating from those gloriously blue eyes shocked him speechless.

  11. Lakisha Friday

    “You don’t mean that. I would never.” Jo’Ella said throwing the folder at Ryan.
    Ryan grabbed her by the arm squeezing hard. “You either sign this child away and keep the money I’ve given you or lose the money and the fame if you keep this child. Make a choice.
    Jo’Ella glared at him. The choice was clear to her as she rubbed her growing belly.

  12. Kathryn

    In Hollywood, you yell “cut” that’s it. No way could he take back what he said when he saw her, dammit, the actors would have to start again and nothing would stop the talk.

  13. Deirdre

    Wow, there were so many fantastic entries for this challenge! It was really hard to select just three, but after careful deliberation, here are our top picks:

    Rosemarie: Serena had come to a decision – if the sharks didn’t kill Matt, she definitely would. — We all agreed this was funny, punchy and intriguing!

    Heather: The world shouldn’t come crashing down on you when you’re in the middle of the supermarket. — Our curiosity was piqued with this funny opener. And the second person POV gives it a unique, relatable voice.

    Ashley: For two thousand, one hundred and ninety days, Alex had thought of only one thing: find the woman who put him in prison, and make her his bride. — This line does everything we asked, and sets up the hooks and the tone of the story very well. We all wanted to know more!

    Our thanks to EVERYONE who participated in this challenge. We had so much fun reading all your entries!