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Jello to the Wall: Nailing Voice

The following is an excerpt from my critical paper I submitted to Antioch University of Los Angeles as part of the requirements for attaining my MFA in Fiction Writing. It focuses on the fifth of seven different techniques for creating compelling first lines. By my count, twenty-four of the first…

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Making the Stage: Setting and Tone

The following is an excerpt from my critical paper I submitted to Antioch University of Los Angeles as part of the requirements for attaining my MFA in Fiction Writing. It focuses on the fourthof seven different techniques for creating compelling first lines. The advice we often hear is that we…

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Beg Your Pardon? The Unexpected First Line

The following is an excerpt from my critical paper I submitted to Antioch University of Los Angeles as part of the requirements for attaining my MFA in Fiction Writing. It focuses on the third of seven different techniques for creating compelling first lines. Admittedly, this is my favorite technique. Enjoy….

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100 Best First Lines in Novels

The following is the second excerpt from my Critical Paper I compiled as part of my requirements for my MFA from Antioch University of Los Angeles. It follows the two sections I posted on Monday. GET A LOAD OF THESE: THE 100 BEST LINES IN NOVELS In January of 2006,…

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Firsts in First Lines

Some time ago, as part of my requirements for my MFA program, I had to construct a critical paper that focused on an aspect of the craft of fiction. I chose to do a critical analysis of the 100 best lines in novels, as comprised by the American Book Review….

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Originality is Three Deep

Often, as writers, we tend to take the path of least resistance. We’ll throw in a tired, worn-out cliché because it’s easier than actually thinking of an original description. The result is a lot of the same stories with the same characters and the same “plot-twists.” Unfortunately, nothing makes for…

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Finding Motivation When You Have None

I’m going to share with you one of my lowest moments as a writer. After finishing one of my first novels, The Bargain, I began work on my next project—an ambitious undertaking with high literary merit. At the time, I was still working on my MFA. I approached my mentor…

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