On First Paragraphs

“Call me Ishmael.”

This short sentence is probably the most famous of famous first lines of English language novels. And, maybe how you would expect a post entitled “On First Paragraphs” to begin.

No surprises there. And that’s the problem. The first sentence, the first paragraph of any piece of writing—even a blog—should contain some kind of surprise. At least something fresh, something you weren’t expecting to hear.

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A Madeleine Moment

As usual before a workshop, I pick up a coffee to take with me. And so it was that on a recent Sunday morning I drove the roundabout way to The Ink Spot to stop at Starbucks for my regular Americano. As I waited at the light, a young man crossed the street in front of me. Slender, wearing jeans and a long-sleeved blue pullover, he carried what could have been a journal, could have been a book.

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Read it Aloud? The Whole Thing?

We’ve all heard it before, from writing teachers and well-published authors and in books about writing: Read your work aloud to really discover what you’ve written and whether or not it’s “working.” There are lots of other reasons for giving voice to your words.

tammy reads

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