Wednesday, August 12, 2009

just something interesting

A good friend of mine asked me over coffee recently what I look for in a "good" story.

"Something interesting," I said, "right from the beginning."

Without question, every story's different, since every story's meaning and purpose differ from others. Still, revising stories to ensure something of interest awaits readers in those earliest passages can sometimes guide writers to pinpoint a story's meaning and purpose and even more fluidly unfurl a story with those goals in mind.

A story we published in our recent issue, Erik Koel's Big Cats caught my interest from those opening passages. Something strange happens, and that strangeness conveys to me some emotional weight Daniel, the story's main character who walks with invisible tigers his entire life, seems to feel.

Reflecting on other stories that move me, I'd say other ways to make interesting opening passages involve tones with cunning metaphor, sardonic intellect, or vivid imagery pregnant with implicit meaning.

In the end, the best advice anyone can give is probably what Stuart Dybek just gave in the interview we did with him, which is read a lot and write every day.

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