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Readers Corner: Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing

readers corner Oct 05, 2021

Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing: Essays by Lauren Hough

Opening lines are critical. Ideally, they grab the reader and entice them to read more. They can establish the theme of the book, something important about the main character, or both. “If you ask me where I’m from, I’ll lie to you,” achieves all these objectives. What do you glean from this opening line? Does it make you want to read more? Tell me some of your favorite opening lines.

LGBTQ+ coming out stories are important, especially for readers still in the closet or dealing with trauma from leaving the closet. They’re also important for readers to develop empathy for family members or friends in the process of coming out. And the best coming out stories tap into the deepest parts of all of us. Identity. Belonging. Love. As Lauren Hough notes, there’s more than one kind of coming out. 

Not just nachos but nachos from 7-11 - not just chili, but Alpo-looking chili. These are known as “significant details” or “telling details.” William Strunk Jr. writes in The Elements of Style: “the surest way to hold a reader’s attention is by being specific, definite, and concrete.” We know a lot more about Lauren Hough’s world by the simple (and brilliant!) addition of these details. The vague and ordinary details fade from memory. The specific, definite, and concrete remain.

Here the author goes “meta”—telling us about her writing process in the book she’s written! As a book coach and writer myself, I love this. But what I love even more is the deeper story. How writing the truth, “just little stories at first,” stories she didn’t plan to show anyone, transformed the author’s life. The same thing happened to me. Curious to learn more? Read my forthcoming memoir, Graveyard of Safe Choices. 

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