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Starting a good story

That was the summer the Europeans came in droves, remember?

I always like authors who, with in the first line, drop you in their familiar yet not quite normal world. The short story is an especially effective mode for this. I know some writers expand on pages of pages of exposition (science fiction writers, mostly), but others like to spend their paragraphs talking about what it’s like being a small boy, as Anderson does.

But the others–Saroyan comes to mind, but Barthelme works too–construct your surroundings in less than three lines. Writers like Joyce or Chekhov don’t really care whether or not you understand their reality, but that’s precisely because they write with very real words.

In an effort to I’m-not-sure-what, I’ve just paid Zoetrope many to try and teach me fiction writing. I am not at all proud of this act, but for the sake of my sanity, my 25th year is the checkpoint of whether or not I can write. And I desperately need this outside validation.

Otherwise, after this, I may as well be a bum.