Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 18, 2010

The Winner is Betsy Devany

About six weeks ago I had a contest for a first page inspired from a prompt ( __ Always wanted to ___, but ___ never expected ___).  I was very impressed with the entries that came in and will be e-mailing each of you with my thoughts, but someone had to win and the two anonymous editors came up with their choice – Betsy Devany’s young adult first page, Searching For Big Meanie. 

There definitely is a skill to writing a first page.  You have to hook the reader with your first sentence, introduce the problem and characters, and end the page with something that will cause the reader to turn the page.  Here is the winning entry:

Searching for Big Meanie by Betsy Devany

I always wanted to escape from Big Meanie, but I never expected that he’d leave first. Just plain disappear. In broad daylight, my chicken of a daddy sprinted out the front door and down the sidewalk, tripping on a crack. Mama’s heirloom silver clinking inside the flannel pillow case to warn of his escape.

Five neighbors witnessed. Two waved. Missy Goodrich yelled “Good Riddance” and Miss Lila spit on the ground. Tobin (who filled me in on the details later) held his right pointer high in the air. The day before, I’d shown him how to flip the bird.

Being that he was only five, I guess he needed more practice.

As for me, if I hadn’t been assisting Bigelow steal a case of Hershey bars, I’d have snatched that bag of silver, bopped Big Meanie over the head with it, and watched him fall to the ground.  With a foot stomped on his big ole belly, I’d make him swear to never come back.

I hadn’t thought about my future.

Without Big Meanie I had no one. Mama was ten feet under the ground, so it didn’t take long for an ole black Plymouth to pull up in front of our house. Right in the middle of my supper: two Hershey bars.

Now I used to like Missy Goodrich, especially her oatmeal cookies with cranberries. (Even though, she didn’t cook them nearly enough.) And I thought Miss Lila had my back. But walking towards that ole Plymouth with a suitcase full of my dirty laundry, I knew the truth.

Those women had sold me out.

The car door slammed and off we went: me and some woman from D. C. F., trailed by a cop car. Miss Lila and Missy Goodrich held hands, waving. Like it was a parade or something.

I gave them my best glare, and then lifted my middle finger to thank them for what they’d done. “Tobin!” I shouted. “This is the way you do it.”

More prompts coming shortly to help you keep writing.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. DANG, Betsy! This is BRILLIANT! My hat’s off to you–I wish I could write like this.


  2. Thanks! I am in shock after reading that I won this. The process of working with the prompt was incredibly fun, and truly, this is how writing should be.


  3. OMG Betsy. I want more! You created such fascinating characters and so much action in such a small amount of words. I’m astounded. GREAT!!!


  4. Once again….such talent! Congrats Betsy! Hey! are there any agents out there that are noticing our Betsy???


  5. Hooray, Betsy! You’ve NAILED it again. I am so excited for you. You are in the zone ❤


  6. Betsy again — YAY!! You go, girl! This is a great first page — I definitely want to read more. (Nothing like throwing in some good ‘ole bird flipping right away!!)


  7. Wow, Betsy! This story has the promise of being a big winner. Don’t forget your NJ buds when you become famous.


  8. Betsy, I’m once again blown away! The details you choose for fleshing out so many characters, the scene and coming story are SO perfect! I just LOVE it and hope you announce here when your first novel is hitting the shelves! YEA for you!!!!


  9. AMAZING, Betsy. Great job. I always love everything you write. Congrats


  10. Thanks everyone, and in particular, Kathy. Without her prompt, Big Meanie might not have surfaced. (By the way, Kathy, I love the photo! He must be a younger version of my Big Meanie.)


  11. Wow, Betsy, this is great!


    • Thanks, Debbie!
      Miss seeing you at Guilford. I hope to make it back soon. Betsy


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