The Magical Lure of the Intimate Voice

I have written here and elsewhere of the power of a great opening line. If you can imagine a bookstore as a crowded singles bar with each book hoping to get lucky, that first sentence essentially functions as the author's pick-up line. Sure, a sexy book jacket helps, since it ...

Bringing Up the Rear: The Literary Mic Drop

Many years ago, my agent offered me the following advice: "The most important sentence of your novel is the first one. The second most important sentence is the last one." There certainly have been vivid, memorable first lines, many of which we can quote by heart--from "Call me Ishmael" in Herman Melville's Moby Dick to ...

God or Huck Finn: Who Should Tell Your Story?

An online discussion among several of my fellow Poisoned Pen Press authors got me thinking about the one decision every fiction author must make before typing CHAPTER 1 at the top of the page. That decision? Who will tell your story? "Huh," a baffled reader may wonder, "doesn't the author tell ...

Meet Me in St. Louis: Toasted Ravioli, Hoosiers, and High School

If asked to name the key elements of their favorite novel, most readers would place at the top of their list vivid characters and an engaging plot. But when we think of our favorite novels, another vital element is the strong sense of place. Whether it's Huck Finn's Mississippi River ...

Who Tells the Story: From the Bible to Marlowe

Who will tell the story? Every author must answer that question before typing "Chapter One" at the top of that first page. Not who will write the story. That's the author's job. But who will tell it? Who will serve as the narrator? One common answer is known as Third Person Omniscient. That's ...

Who Tells the Story? My 5 Favorite Narrators in Literature (Part 1)

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I came across a fun piece in Publishers Weekly by the author Antoine Wilson entitled "The 10 Best Narrators in Literature." As he explains, the range of fictional narrators goes from the World Swallower to the Unreliable Narrator. The World Swallower is "the unhinged cousin of the old-school omniscient author-narrator ...