It’s My Party

B.K. Stevens

“It’s my party,” Lesley Gore sang, “and I’ll cry if I want to.”  Or, in this case, it’s my blog, and I’ll break the rules if I want to. The guidelines for this blog ask writers to discuss the first two pages of one novel or short story. I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’ll discuss the opening sentences of several stories in my recently released collection, Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime.  In short stories, we probably don’t have two pages to make readers and editors want to keep reading. We’re lucky if we get two sentences. So I thought it might be interesting to compare the openings of these stories and see if I can come to any general conclusions. Other writers, of course, have used other approaches to beginning short stories, and have often succeeded far more than I ever will. But this is what’s worked for me.

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11 thoughts on “It’s My Party

  1. Keenan Powell

    What an interesting analysis! I prefer the more sinister kind of tension, creeping just beneath your skin, to the bash-them-on-the-head stuff one sees. Do you suppose women are more tuned in to other people’s moods that allows us to explore these levels?

  2. B.K. Stevens

    I’m glad you found the post interesting, Keenan, and I share your preference for understated tension. Creating suspense is a delicate business–if we try to force it, it doesn’t work. I’m not sure I’d want to make any generalizations about men and women, though. I can think of many male writers who do a wonderful job of exploring and creating moods and levels of tension. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Linda Thorne

    Since I have your anthology sitting right here behind me in my office at home, I especially enjoyed reading this post. I noticed you’ve had stories published everywhere: Family Circle, Woman’s World, Alfred Hitchcock (which I knew of already) and you’ve won in contests like the one judged by Mary Higgins Clark. I haven’t had the chance to start reading your stories, but I’m going to start tomorrow. I’ll put it on Goodreads now as “currently reading,” which will get me going. I’m behind on some other books, but what’s nice about an anthology is that you can read a story and return to your novel. Take a break and read another one or two and return to your novel. It gives you something smaller to enjoy and something faster to complete. This little post got my curiosity worked up and I’m glad I have the full collection of stories handy.

  4. B.K. Stevens

    Linda, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and of course I’m delighted that you have the anthology. After you read it, I’d love to know what you think. I’m not on Goodreads, though (I should be, I know–I keep meaning to sign up). And yes, I’ve published stories in several places, but don’t forget that I’ve been at this a long time–my first story was published back in 1988. Anyway, thanks so much for your interest. I hope you enjoy the stories!

  5. Jacqueline Seewald

    Something interesting is about to happen–I think that’ a mantra I will keep in mind as I write. I enjoy reading your blog, Bonnie, which always has intelligent and valuable commentary.

  6. B.K. Stevens

    I’m glad you enjoy the blog, Jacquie. If you’d ever like to make a return visit as a guest blogger, you’d be more than welcome. When I begin to read one of your posts, I always know that something interesting is about to happen!

  7. Linda Thorne

    B.K., I read the first story today while at work. I really enjoyed Iphigenia Woodhouse and her mother. The story had a good, deep plot. Of course, your lead character was good too and I’m partial to first person P.O.V. I don’t do much more on Goodreads myself (time consuming). I do keep book shelves up there, which is easy. When I start a book and put it on one of my shelves, I have it set to automatically drop onto Facebook. It does the same after I’ve finished it and moved it to the “already read” book shelf. You can see your book’s Goodreads’ post on my FB timeline now.

  8. B.K. Stevens

    I’m delighted that you enjoyed the first story, Linda. I’ll admit that I’m fond of those characters–but then, we’re all fond of our characters. I took a quick look at your FB timeline and the Goodreads page. Maybe I’ll finally take the plunge and try to get started on Goodreads this weekend. You’ve definitely got me interested! Thanks!

  9. Linda Thorne

    I have 2 Facebook timelines. Someone said I needed an author page for Likes, etc., but I don’t quite understand it all and most of my posts are on the profile page, which is what you probably found. I may ask you to Like my author’s page & then you can see that too. I get to take my time with your collection of stories because I can read one here and there, so any review will not be in the next couple of months (on Goodreads or Amazon), but I will put one up when I’ve read them all. And, the delay is not that I wouldn’t love to sit down and read all the stories in you book over a weekend. It’s only the time thing – mostly my needed full-time day job. From you Alfred Hitchcock story and the one you wrote in this book, you would be a hard act to follow for anyone wanting to be write short stories..

  10. B.K. Stevens

    I’ve liked your author page, Linda. Like you, I don’t quite understand what author pages are all about. I still don’t have one, but I probably should–so I guess it goes on the list of things I plan to get around to some day. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and by all means take your time reading the other ones–that’s probably the best way to read a collection of short stories anyway.

  11. Kaye George

    You already know I love all the stories, but his analysis was very fun, too ! What a great idea. I think I might try that with my short stories, too, for the heck of it. OR, you could open up this as a new Tuesday category. I work hard on all my beginnings and especially the first sentences, but I agree that the ones for short stories have to be very sharp and spot on. Thanks for the post.

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