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Tell Me a Story: First Sentences, First Paragraphs, First Chapters (Session 2 of 6)
January 8, 2022 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST
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“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” — Stephen King
What are your favorite first sentences, the ones that grabbed you and never let go? Why is the beginning of any piece of writing so important? And what promise do we make to the reader with our opening lines?
In this salon, the second in the series from writer and editor Julie Mosow, we’ll analyze our favorite first sentences (and first paragraphs and first chapters) to figure out why they’re so irresistible. Then, we’ll write our own.
We’ll also discuss some of the practical questions of starting a book or any piece of writing: To outline or not to outline? How much should I try to write every day? How many drafts will it take? And how will I know when I’m finished?
Finally, we’ll workshop our own writing. I’ll ask several brave volunteers to share their first drafts with the group, and together we’ll talk about what’s working, what’s not, and, most importantly, how to make it better. Reading and thinking about other people’s work is key to becoming a great writer. “You can learn more, and more quickly, from other people’s missteps than from their successes,” writes Ann Patchett in The Getaway Car. “If we could learn everything we needed to know about writing by seeing it masterfully executed, we could just stay in bed and read Chekhov.”
Bring 2-3 of your favorite first sentences to the group and be prepared to talk about why you love them. As for reading, I expect to send 2-3 pieces from fellow salon attendees about a week before for everyone to read and consider.
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