Thursday, October 15, 2009


"The desire at the start is not to say anything, not to make meanings, but to create for the unwary reader a sudden experience of reality." Valerie Martin

I have a gesture for this moment that I use in all of my classes. It's your hands as a frame and then your face moving into that frame. It is the moment that we enter the story. It's different for different readers. But the skilled writer will give us plenty of opportunity.

It is usually a moment around an undeniable detail -- something simple -- the jostle of a dog's tongue, someone spraying oranges at a fruit stand ... A moment that we cannot deny exists -- somewhere in the world of this story. And we enter.

If the beginning of a story gives us this moment, there is success.

Stop telling us what to think. Stop trying to establish things. Stop SAYING things.

Create a sudden experience of reality.

Easier said than done.