Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Opening Prompts

A recent segment on the Kathy & Judy radio program asked listeners to imagine the memoirs they’d write, and invited them to call in with the opening sentences.

My favorites were short, punchy lines -- openings that set the stage just enough to intrigue and then set the mind adrift in story possibilities:

Let me apologize in advance.

I’m my own fault.

I lived south of I-80.

These genes don’t fit.

She hit me first.

Later, I looked through the published memoirs on my bookshelf. Most of their opening lines were long and immediately specific to the story at hand. But I found three that are general enough to serve as writing prompts:

The first day I did not think it was funny. (From Nora Ephron’s Heartburn -- reportedly such thinly disguised fiction that I’ll call it memoir.)

Here they come. (From Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man.)

Life changes fast. (From Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.)

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