Now Open: Starting Strong with Character, Action, and Rhythm in the Contemporary Short Story

Description:

Fiction's greatest asset is also its greatest liability: nobody has to read it. Well, people like us do, but those wider audiences we're trying to reach? That's another story. And that story is this: when we write, we need to earn the reader's attention word by word. And nowhere is that work more important than in a story's first paragraphs. In this class, we'll subject several examples to close readings in order to figure out what makes them work: how do characters get introduced, action started, and a rhythm established, all in a story's opening lines? The answer isn't always noisy (and it's never an alarm clock), but certain successful characteristics recur, so we'll read for those—and we'll read selected student work, too, all with an eye toward crafting the strongest openings possible.

Please read "Chicxulub," by TC Boyle, prior to the class. The story is available at the New Yorker, or you can read a PDF of the story here



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