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An update from our sixty-third Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, April 15

In this week’s workshop, we talked about different ways to begin a story. Conner began by saying we often feel the need to start a story with exposition—to start with loads of background information. We looked at openings of various stories and novels and found that in fact, there are many other ways to begin. We looked at stories that start in media res, or in the middle, such as The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Other pieces, such as The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, introduce a tone. Some examples, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are humorous, others poetic. In the first few sentences of Toni Morrison’s Jazz, we even found the entire plot! To sum up the presentation, we reviewed three ways to begin a work of fiction that don't involve mere exposition: we can reveal something, establish a style (or mood), or establish a theme or conflict.

The Challenge: Write five different openings.

The Participants: Emma, Amaya, Anushka, Ellie, Rachel, Samantha, Aaron, Philip, Yueling, Seva, Josh, Madeline, Polina, Ananya, Samarina, Stella, Nova, Catherine, Liesl

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