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Lessons from MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: Opening Lines with Gary A. Braunbeck (@GaryABraunbeck)

Monday, March 17, 2014

In Many Genres, One Craft, award-winning author Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller gather the voices of today’s top genre writers and writing instructors alongside their published students. It fosters the writing process in a way that focuses almost exclusively on writing the novel. Using a compilation of instructional articles penned by well-known authors affiliated with Seton Hill University’s acclaimed MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction, the book emphasizes how to write genre novels and commercially appealing fiction. The articles are modeled after actual “learning modules” that have successfully taught students in the program how to reach a wider audience for over a decade.

Excerpt from “You Have to Start with SOMETHING, So It Might As Well Be Something Like This” by Gary A. Braunbeck

Many Genres-One Craft

Yes, it would be nice, be wonderful, be just oh-so-peachy if we lived in a world where readers had the patience and the time to be eased into a narrative, to be seduced by the ebb and flow of the language, the musical composition of sentences, the overall rhythm and atmosphere filtered by writers through their own sensibilities and re-interpreted for readers on the printed page as a magnificent feast of words. …

[T]he harsh reality is and will remain that you absolutely have to hook and hold a reader’s attention with your opening line; if they get to the second or third page of your story and are still not interested in what’s going on, they’ll turn to the next story in the anthology or pull another novel off the shelf. So your opening line has to be intensely immediate, somehow grabbing the reader’s attention while simultaneously establishing time, place, situation, character, and conflict.

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Work Cited:

Braunbeck, Gary A. “You Have to Start with SOMETHING, So It Might As Well Be Something Like This.” Many Genres, One Craft. Eds. Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller. Terra Alta, WV: Headline Books, Inc., 2011. 16. Print.

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