Excellent observations and examples.
Most writers know that readers for literary journals have to
review hundreds of submissions. In practical terms this means readers may only
give each submission a paragraph or two to make a good impression before
deciding to reject or consider the piece further. That doesn’t give a writer
much of a chance. So what should a writer try to do to engage an Orca reader?
Your opening can establish character, setting, point of
view, conflict, and other aspects. But more importantly it must establish the
voice of the story, and create some connection to the character’s situation,
also known as the stakes.
Let’s look at a couple of examples, one that doesn’t quite
work, and one that does:
Here’s a first paragraph, written by me to approximate many
of the stories we receive in our submission queue:
Jim Stone walked past the gates of O’Hare’s spacious Terminal B, checking his…
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