A published book only gets one opening line, one first page to engage a reader who may be too quickly drawn to the lights of their cell phones. We, writers, are in the fight of our lives, against an ever-changing technology. An arresting and beguiling first line of a novel certainly is necessary to hook the reader, but how does the writer craft an alluring first page that keeps the reader in their chair or bed, book open into the night?
So let’s take a look at Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard, published in 2016, and see how she manages to set up so many parts of the story on the first page:
One of the things I love about reading and writing Flash fiction is that a story can turn or pirouette in one sentence from a standard narrative to something that floats off the page and impacts the reader. These texts only become stories when they’ve been lifted by this sentence as if given the breath of meaning. The story that I want to use as an example is “The Canyon Where the Coyotes Live” by Bobbie Ann Mason found in The Best of Small Fictions 2015 published by Queens Ferry Press.