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...
Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less, edited by Daniel Jones and Miya Lee of Modern Love in The New York Times
We pick up books for many reasons: to be entertained, to forget our sorrows, to laugh, to learn something. Before you even read the first story in tiny love stories, you know what to expect. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be swept away—in less time than it takes to read this paragraph. This book of bite-sized morsels of goodness may be exactly what you need after (during?) pandemic life.
This tiny love story, “My Main Men as Meals,” made me LOL. It made me wonder how I’d describe my past lovers. And “my now and hopefully forever” person. All that in under 100 words. What does this story evoke for you?
This tiny love story, “He Tried So Hard to Remember Me,” gutted me, in a good way :) It brought back memories of my own dad who couldn’t remember what he had just finished...
Memoir writers need to uphold their bargain with the reader to be trustworthy, to tell the truth as they remember it. See how deftly Ouellette does that here. She states a fact but says she doesn’t remember it happening. Only her sister does. With that one simple statement, we know we can trust this narrator. She’s not going to lie to us.
Memoir writers need to choose their perspective. Who is narrating this story? The adult author looking back on her life? The child as she is experiencing events? Jeannine Ouellette does both in this fragmented memoir, which can be tricky but she’s got the writing chops to do it. Can’t you just hear the young Jeannine here?
There’s a principle in writing known as Chekhov’s gun. “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” Everything you include in your...
In the Dream House is an extraordinary, genre-breaking memoir.
“Chapters” range from multiple pages to one with a single sentence.
Fragments, slivers, shards of memory.
Leaps back and forth in time, in point of view, in place.
But it works because the author knows what she has come to the page to say.
She lets us know her point from the very opening pages:
“I enter into the archive that domestic abuse between partners who share a gender identity is both possible and not uncommon, and that it can look something like this.”
Skillful writers can break conventions but they still have to have a point.
The structure a writer chooses needs to be in service of that point.
What’s the last genre-bending book you’ve read? What did you think about it?
Interspersed between chapters that are more narrative in nature—i.e, they follow the real-life story of the abusive relationship between the author and her girlfriend—are chapters that...
I love talking books, and I’m always happy to share the ones that move me or teach me something. I'll be highlighting books that speak to me and pulling quotes that resonate. I hope you find value in these snippets and that they open your eyes to authors you haven’t read before.
So while I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you, I'd love to hear how these quotes resonate with you too.
My first Readers Corner book is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This book helped me understand why I was having trouble getting traction on my writing, and it offered me a simple solution. I hope you’ll find it useful too.
“Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.”
~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Resistance is an invisible and insidious force that keeps us from doing the creative work we were put on this earth to do.
It presents itself in many forms: fear, distraction, self-doubt, and procrastination.
Maybe you beat yourself up for when you’re...