Now and again, Blueprint magazine publishes one of my monthly columns on their website. This is the November column.
ONCE I KNOW what topic I want to (or have to) write about, the most critical decision becomes inevitable: how to begin? No evening class in Creative Writing, no journalism course fails to mention how important the first sentence is for the impression a text makes upon the unprepared reader. Norbert Miller, a German literary historian, published a collection of essays about what he called this ‘radical decision’. The first sentence compresses the infinite space for reflection into a finite object, settling on one version out of a multitude of variations and possible strategies.
Consider these alternatives: ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ and ‘One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.’
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