“13 terrible opening lines to ensure your after-work novel never sees the light of day,” by Gavin Bradley

May 24th, 2017 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

1. The butler did it.

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if editors are nothing but failed writers, then sub-editors should certainly keep their fucking comments to themselves. How’s that for a ‘punchier’ opening line Jerry? You dick.

3. The icy finger of fate had at last found me, on my 40th year, and as I turned my back on it, I knew I would never forget the feeling of my first prostate exam.

4. Eripmav’s clinic, from its blank, mirrorless walls to the pointed smiles of its Transylvanian staff, appeared for all the world to be your run-of-the-mill blood clinic, but it hid a terrible and shocking secret…

5. The train thundered on dramatically across the sweeping landscape; an expansive valley that would probably translate very well into cinema. The conductor looked a little like Brad Pitt, or Ethan Hawke if he’s too expensive.

6. The azure crests of twine peaked above the pallid ripples of fabric beneath; the complexity of the pattern reminiscent of the hypocrisy of life itself, and of continuing to live only to shuffle closer and closer to unknowable oblivion. Indeed, I believe the sweater was blue.

7. Twelve down, twenty nine thousand, nine hundred and eighty eight to go.

8. Ed. Herring, a suspicious character with a suspicious scar and suspicious eye patch, loitered suspiciously under the balcony, pockets bulging.

9. The two of us were not like other boys, and on the playground we soon became inseparable; the companionship and protection each provided for the other forging an unshakeable bond, ultimately cemented by the cherished summer months of our teens, spent in explorative passion at his parents’ alpine cabin. Of course back then, he only went by Adolf.

10. The last book sold 300,000 copies and you’re still sub-editing. Happy with your life, Jerry?

11. “Was it the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?” I probably thought to myself as I emerged, pensive, from my mother’s womb.

12. Agent Tom Crawford, hulking pectorals and biceps packed tightly into his charcoal V-neck, was six foot three, 220 pounds of all-American muscle. His sharp, green eyes hinted at a violent past, but the lines around them suggested a reluctance to relieve those days of violence. His close-cropped dark hair was fashionable enough to put people at ease, without drawing too much attention to his chiselled jaw, peppered with noon stubble and the scars of battle. His partner was black.

13. “I’ll cut you like an errant sentence from a tangential paragraph,” said Jerry, the sub-editor, standing knife-in-hand before the hack writer.


Gavin Bradley writes in happy obscurity in Edmonton, Alberta. His pieces can be found in The Glass Buffalo, The Open Ear and The Caterpillar literary magazines, and various anthologies, and his telephone number can be found on most bathroom walls around the city.


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