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First lines– a writing prompt

February 12, 2014

HermaThe Dinnern Koch’s best-selling novel, The Dinner, concludes with a bonus essay about his writing process. He says, “For me, a book is already finished once I’ve come up with the first sentence. Or rather: the first two sentences.” These sentences are the book’s “DNA” and contain everything he needs to know. Once he knows what they are, he sits down every morning, curious to see what will happen next, without an outline or plan, just like a curious reader.

The Dinner begins: “We were going out to dinner. I won’t say which restaurant, because next time it might be full of people who’ve come to see whether we’re there.”

As an exercise, try using Koch’s first lines and carry on to see what happens next. Then read The Dinner to compare your story with what made Koch curious.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank Gavin permalink
    February 14, 2014 11:32 pm

    A really well-constructed first sentence or two of a novel strike me as like the first couple of bars of a very good piece of music. The rest is a kind of seemingly inevitable unfolding. On the other hand, I can’t think of a good novel that begins with a clunker of a first sentence.

  2. Valerie McDonald permalink
    February 15, 2014 3:05 pm

    That’s a great analogy!

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