Writing is hard. Stringing letters together to make words? Hard. Grouping those into meaningful sentences? Harder. But the hardest part? Ask any successful novelist: the hardest part is writing the opening paragraph. And the first paragraph is crucial: without it, by definition there can be no second paragraph. Without a second, there can be no third. Without a third, there can be no fourth. (And so on.) Consider how many paragraphs the average novel has (some of the long ones have thousands), and perhaps you'll understand why the lack of a first paragraph is a very serious lack indeed.

Now, if you're a first-time novelist, you may think that the way around this issue is simply to skip the first (and most difficult to write) paragraph and just write your novel, and then, at the end, make the second paragraph the first; the third the second; the fourth, the third; and so on, up to as many paragraphs as your novel has.

Well, no: it doesn't work that way. Why? Because it doesn't. No, there is no way around kicking off your novel off with a strong, gripping, mood-setting first paragraph. The good news, though? The good news is that you don't have to be the one to write that first paragraph, because professionally crafted, ready-made ones are for sale by The Avocado Papers right here on this page, at the very reasonable rate of $1.75 per word. You will not find a better deal anywhere on the internet. Not so sure? Go ahead: find a better deal.

See? You didn't find a better deal, did you. Okay. Non-exclusive world rights to publish and distribute the following paragraphs in any medium are for sale. The Avocado Papers recommends that they be used as opening paragraphs of novels or short stories, but you are welcome to use one or more of them anywhere in your work. When you find one that meets your needs, click the appropriate "add to cart" button.

Let's go shopping!

Item #PGH43490873:
Katharine hunched forward, both hands on the steering wheel, her dead husband, Paul, in the passenger's seat, as she pulled ahead of the green Lincoln again, and a dark-blue SUV. Paul wasn't, of course, dead, not really: he was sleeping, unlike Rosey, in the back seat, who was dead and had been since Stockbridge. But Paul: sometimes when Paul slept, as he often did on these trips across I-90, Katharine liked to imagine that he was dead. It wasn't that she wished he were dead. What it was: she liked to try ideas on for size sometimes, see how they fit. And Paul slept like a dead man: he did not snore; his breathing movements were visible only if she watched him for a bit, which she couldn't do and keep her eye on the road at the same time. Rosey, though: half golden retriever, half black lab: now, she was for-real dead, and there was going to be some explaining to do in Waltham.
 170 words (925 chars). Price: $297.50
Item #PGH76837893:
I had horrible shin-splints in 1998, so I had my shins removed. People in my office always know that I'm the one who's in the bathroom because I yell "Work it – work it!!!" when I'm in there. Sometimes I walk down the street talking on my mobile phone, except nobody's on the other end of the line, but people on the street don't know that, and I say things like, "I'd love to, but I have to have lunch with some jerk-offs from Fox." I live my life on my own terms, I guess you could say. If I met you, I'd smash your face into the back of your head with a baseball bat. But later, we would become great friends and I would visit you and change your diaper for you as often as I could.
 158 words (808 chars). Price: $276.50
Item #PGH33493847:
I know what my Uncle Bob would have said: "heh, heh, heh." That's just the way he was: a man of few words. Or, more accurately, a man of one word: my Uncle Bob, you understand, could articulate just one word: "heh." As he often "said," It could have been worse; he could have had zero words. And at any rate, it wasn't his fault; he'd had his entire skull blown off during the war, the First World War, and they'd sewn it back on, but he was lucky to be able to move his mouth at all, and especially lucky to have an actual, English word to say, even if it was just one word. Now: given that the year was 1968 – November 26th, 1968 – my uncle had taken just about exactly fifty years worth of shit from people about his word (which was how he thought of it, "his word"): about "heh." For example, a common one: "Excuse me, Bob – Could I have a word?" This motherfucker, Uncle Bob would think, because he had many words that he could think with: it was the saying that was the problem, but he could think as many words as a normal person. I'd like to cave in the back of this cocksucker's head with a tire iron. That's what he would think, but what he would say was either "heh, heh" or "heh, heh, heh." Or nothing; sometimes he said nothing, which seemed to throw some of them off balance a little, make some of them go away. Anyway, so it was around lunchtime on the 26th, after returning from his weekly ridicule appointment with the fat fuck at the V.A. hospital, that Uncle Bob decided to do something that he'd wanted to do for a while, which was to go down to Clearwater and buy himself a shotgun.
 327 words (1745 chars). Price: $572.25
Item #PGH10029387:
It was definitely a Tuesday when the sewer exploded: Jackass didn't work Mondays, and by Wednesday, he was gone. WPNX issued a statement expressing station management's view that what had happened was "an embarrassment," and dismissed David "Jackass" Reardon as the morning drive-time idiot, since it was he who had urged 850,000 listeners to flush their toilets at exactly the same time – 7:48 AM – because he thought that the resulting strain on the sewers would be "interesting."
 92 words (573 chars). Price: $161.00
Item #PGH48555878:
The President was in a pensive mood as he wondered what sort of arc his second term would follow, and idly surveyed what he believed to be the Washington Monument (but which was, in fact, the Capitol) through the tinted, bullet-proof windows. It had been a tough day, but as his motorcade sped along the edge of the Mall some minutes later, his body tensed as he thought about how lucky he was to have a Secretary of Defense who was so good at sucking cock.
 87 words (464 chars). Price: $152.25
Item #PGH93495875:
He stood in the trees at the edge of the clearing, barely within earshot of the silent crowd at the memorial service, remembering that Lara had spoken once about the difference between "life skills" and "survival skills." He didn't know if she'd gotten that from a book or magazine or shrink, or if she'd thought it up herself. Whatever: one set of skills allowed its owner to lead an enjoyable and fulfilling life; the other enabled one merely to survive, but didn't allow for much in the way of enjoyment or fulfillment. Lara had felt, of course, that her skills tended toward the "survival" type, while his, she felt, tended toward the other type, the "life" type. Her "survival skills" hadn't, in the end, been enough; that much, now, was clear, he thought, as a black-clad figure strode toward him: as Lara strode toward him.
 145 words (871 chars). Price: $253.75
Item #PGH53495877:
Here is what happened: after 9/11, I felt that it would make sense, at night, to bathe City Hall in red, white, and blue floodlights, so I volunteered to install the new, colored lights. I got a deal on lighting fixtures and bulbs from Herrick's, and I wired the whole thing myself, during the day, on Friday, the 14th, and nobody organized a "lighting ceremony" or anything, but that night, a few dozen people showed up for the "lighting" of City Hall. At sundown, I flipped the switches myself: one for the red lights, one for the uncolored (white) lights, and one for the blue lights. The switches were in the basement: flip, flip, flip, and I could see, through the basement window, the blue lights off to the left, the regular ones in the middle, and the red ones off to the right, and... silence. I didn't expect applause, but I did sort of expect some oohing-and-ahhing, maybe. There was no oohing-and-ahhing. I emerged from the basement and looked up at the facade of the building. Well: do you know what color you get when you mix red and blue? That's correct, yes: you get purple. The floods I'd gotten a deal on from Herrick's were not nearly focused enough: way too "floody," so each flood flooded its light everywhere, as opposed to flooding a specific region of the facade. I should have thought of this "floodiness" thing (actually, I sort of think that someone at Herrick's should have thought of it for me, although I was being sort of secretive with the guys at Herrick's, not telling them what we were doing in South Harbor, because I didn't want for Ellston Bay to steal my/our idea). Nobody laughed at me; there was an awkward collective silence, after which people sort of started to wander back to their houses or cars. A few of them said stuff like, "good job, Jon," or "thanks, Jon." One (I can't remember who) said, "it's okay, Jon, we'll fix it tomorrow." But there was no fixing it tomorrow: I'd gotten a deal from Herrick's, yes, but the lights and the fixtures were expensive nonetheless because I'd gotten five hundred of them, and what I really wanted to do was just forget about the lights, but people seemed to feel like the town had spent the money on the lights already, and that it was the thought that counted, and that to turn the lights off would be to let the terrorists win or to disrespect the people who'd died on 9/11, and that anyway if you squinted when you looked at City Hall, you could see red and blue regions... So it's 2008 now, and City Hall is still purple, and it's my fault.
 479 words (2636 chars). Price: $838.25
Item #PGH49888827:
It's not common to meet your future wife while you're both incarcerated, but that's how I met Clarissa. I was spending the night in jail on account of having been doing 57 in a 50-MPH zone and subsequently behaving in a disrespectful or threatening manner towards an officer of the law. Clarissa was locked up for doing 67 in a 55 and subsequently behaving in a disrespectful or threatening manner towards an officer of the law. In my case, I'd asked the cop if it made him feel sad that he was only five-foot-five. Clarissa had called her cop a "fucking twat" and threatened to stuff his "little badge" up his ass.
 183 words (1023 chars). Price: $320.25
Item #PGH43847349:
I live in Rome now and people think my name is Tony.
 159 words (766 chars). Price: $278.25
Item #PGH39837487:
Have you ever had athlete's foot on your face? I haven't. That would suck, wouldn't it? Would it still be called athlete's foot? Probably not. Athlete's face is what it'd be called, wouldn't it. Do you ever wonder about things like that? I do. All the time. I'm not sure it's healthy. Not as unhealthy as I'm thinking athlete's face might be, but still. I suppose you'd need to bathe a lot, if you had athlete's face. And spray yourself with Tinactin. But that would sting, right? Wouldn't that sting? Especially if you forgot to close your eyes? You'd remember to close your eyes, though. Or, what it you forgot to close your mouth? Would you die? I don't think you'd die. You might puke though. But you'd probably just keep your mouth closed.
 132 words (753 chars). Price: $231.00
Item #PGH39482719:
The temperature in the city, according to the web site, was 948 Fahrenheit. I assumed that that was when the thermometer had broken, or melted, or been rendered useless or perhaps nonexistent by the large bomb which had vaporized some the city the day before, and flattened the rest of it. There was no communication out of the city, because there was no city, not anymore, but the web site (unlike the thermometer which periodically communicated a temperature reading to it) was physically located outside of the city, so unlike the city, it still existed: it was still in existence. I wondered where the thermometer had been: a mile from the bomb? Five miles? I, personally, was thirty-five miles from the city, the former city, and it was a beautiful day, an obscenely normal day.
 148 words (852 chars). Price: $259.00
Item #PGH32189768:
She hadn't spoken to anyone since the heart-attack guy at the pool, the dead heart-attack guy. That was Monday; it was Saturday now. He was a kind-faced man, early sixties, sitting there, alone, by the pool, holding a gold wristwatch in his left hand. Where was he from, she'd asked: Nicaragua. Where was his family, she'd asked: he didn't have one, not anymore. Why not, she'd asked: no answer. Then he'd fallen asleep and not woken up again. And now, she was afraid, morbidly so, of speaking to anyone, because of the dead Nicaraguan heart-attack guy.
 106 words (604 chars). Price: $185.50
Item #PGH30229883:
Marjorie was sure this time: these ones were terrorists. They were terrorists, and they were up to something, and whatever this thing was would be perpetrated soon. It did not occur to Marjorie that the terrorists, when they came, weren't going to come to Kent Harbor because there wasn't much of anything to blow up there. But over the course of her forty-three years, a lot of things hadn't occurred to Marjorie, or had occurred to her too late. She was vaguely proud of this, in fact. So Marjorie felt vindicated, the next morning – saddened, of course, but vindicated – when Main Street was flattened by five simultaneously exploding truck bombs.
 112 words (656 chars). Price: $196.00
Item #PGH10228397:
As the sun rose over the Atlantic, Luis took it upon himself to clean up the mess: three hours prior, a spring-breaker from Tulane had literally vomited his entire body onto the sidewalk in front of P.J. Binge's. He, Luis, wouldn't have believed it unless he'd seen it: the kid's pancreas (spleen?) dangling from the first step of the stairs leading into the bar; something liver-like over by the curb; half of what was almost certainly a lung in the bushes over by the propane tanks. What was extraordinary was that the kid had gotten up – this was according to both Bill and Jorge – gotten up, stumbled back into the bar and ordered an Irish coffee, or tried to, from the big stuffed bear who'd stood in the corner by the jukebox since (at least) 1979. Nobody had ever spoken to the bear before. Luis cried when he heard the part about the bear.
 156 words (860 chars). Price: $273.00
Item #PGH53983573:
After 9/11, we did Afghanistan and Iraq. After the Sears Tower, we did Iran. After Seattle, we did Syria, Libya, and Morocco. After 3/24, we did Algeria, Sudan, and... oh, and Jordan. After Massachusetts, we did Pakistan, Kuwait, Afghanistan again, the West Bank, and – by accident, obviously – Spain. After Houston and Chicago, we did Somalia. After Anthrax II, we did Qatar and – we weren't sure about this, and there were definitely some dissenters, but we did it anyway – Japan (because of what they said about Spain). After the European embassies, we did Azerbaijan, Armenia (we sort of thought, "why not, since we're doing Azerbaijan"), and San Francisco. After 12/14, we did Russia (all of it). We haven't done France; we want to, but we haven't caught them red-handed yet. Oh, right, and Mexico: we did them after Fenway, but at that point they had it coming, hard-core.
 148 words (871 chars). Price: $259.00

Copyright © 2008 Steve Schneider. All rights reserved.