The First Two Pages

Every Tuesday, a mystery writer explains how he or she faced the challenges of those brutally difficult–and vitally important–first two pages.

The First Two Pages of “A Blind Eye”

Jane Gorman

Opening lines are tough. The first line of my first book – well, that was a killer. I was rewriting my first two pages after the book had been through a string of editors. After it was formatted. After I got the proof, read through it one more time – and changed the beginning yet again. Not major changes, really. Just changes that (I hope) gave my readers a better sense of who the main character is. What the promise of the story is.

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Starting with the Bad Guy

B.K. Stevens

Usually, in the opening pages of a whodunit, we have to hide our bad guys— make them look harmless, blend them into a pool of red herrings, or keep them out of sight altogether. The plot of my recently released young adult mystery, Fighting Chance, offered me a rare opportunity to put my killer at the center right from the beginning. To start building an ominous tone from the first sentence—it felt irresistibly tempting. But whenever we start with the bad guy, we face special challenges, and we have tough decisions to make.

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The First Two Pages of “The Sacrifice of Isaac”

Steven Wishnia

“The Sacrifice of Isaac,” my story in Jewish Noir, opens with the sound of breaking glass. It’s a sound used in a couple songs I love, just before the noisefest explodes in the Velvet Underground’s “European Son” and to herald the first line—“broken glass everywhere”—in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s seminal hip-hop record “The Message.”

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The First Two Pages of “Your Judaism”

Tasha Kaminsky

Full disclosure: I struggle much more with endings than beginnings. My approach in fiction is to establish a clear voice that sets the tone for the rest of the story. Sometimes that means first person and sometimes that means third person limited. Either way, I pick the narration that makes sense for the story and the characters.

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