After our morning workshop session, during which two more victims had their stories critiqued, we listened to two craft sessions––one on beginnings, the second on endings. The theme for the day (my label, not the conference’s) is beginning a story is like grasping the reader’s extended hand, holding it firmly throughout the story, then letting it go at the end.
Between critiques, Lori Roy ran off a list of writing tips, which I’ll share for those entering the craft.
The authors on the Beginnings panel were Stewart O’Nan, Ann Hood and Les Standiford. Les and Stewart both said that it’s okay to begin slowly, although most instructors tell writers to get into the story quickly––in the first sentence if possible. Ann listed a number of beginning categories and gave examples of each, some of which go against the norm, such as starting with dialogue.
The Endings panel authors were Laura Lippman, Laura Williams McCaffrey and Andre Dubus III. Lippman gave examples showing that both quick and dirty and summing up endings can work, McCaffrey used examples from children’s literature to emphasize how endings don’t have to be elaborate and Dubus used The Son Also Rises to point out how the ending reflects the tension set at the beginning. He implored us to trust the reader with our endings.