Notes from the Slush Pile: Beginnings

Al Kratz

I’d like to share some ideas on beginnings that occurred to me after a recent run through the slush pile.

REM wrote a great song called Begin the Begin on their album, Life’s Rich PageantIt started: Birdie in the hand for life’s rich demand.

A rich, demanding opening is extremely critical to flash fiction. I don’t think you can overestimate the importance of the first few sentences or the opening paragraph. After reading a dozen of these in a row, they can accumulate similar issues. Stories with strong openers rise to the top. It’s a striking difference. Trumpets have been known to sound.

Here are two things that seem to go wrong with many starts:

  • Lack of urgency
  • Lack of clarity

These qualities are often inherent or implied. You can’t always just insert urgency here, but many stories without it act as if you can simply insert reader…

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