As writers, we obsess over endings. Often, in my own writing, I know how I want things to end before I know exactly how they should begin. However, we overlook beginnings at our peril. The first thing a reader sees, after the title of one's story is, of course, the beginning. Beginnings can be just a few words or one sentence containing hundreds of words (check out the beginning of Rick Moody's Purple America for a great multipage opening sentence). When you read the short stories of others, do you ever pause and think why you chose to read them? Why did those stories attract your attention? How did they hold it? A well-crafted first sentence or paragraph makes the difference between a reader deciding or not whether to read a story; I know in my leisure reading I've passed on hundreds of stories based on the first few sentences, and I'm sure you have as well.
Although we read all our submissions here at JMWW, regardless of their first sentences, it doesn't mean we don't like good first impressions. Draw us in quickly—do not dip our foot in the pool of your work toe by toe. Splash us with the bucket. Make us want to know why we should keep reading. Don't make us beg. So many submissions we receive are the equivalent of barred doors when there should be a good bottle of wine and an aged cheese on the doorstep. Remember, you know what's going to happen; we don't. Amusement parks don't make us climb up the hill ourselves to throttle down it; they have chains and chugs and suspense and death-defying views. Give us one heck of a ride. Go ahead. We dare you.
Thanks to all of our contributors who have helped create this issue. We offer an exciting variety of short stories and poetry whose storyscapes travel the span of the globe, from Iraq to Victorian New York. P.S., we've also updated our guidelines. Please sneak a peek when you get the chance!
Jen Michalski, Editor
(Cover photos by Karen Miller)
All the Beautiful Bones by RaeAnn Kime
Aroma of Yesterday by Marianne LaValle-Vincent
Enter Stage Now by Jason Huskey
LII by Manav Maasoom
Riverbed Monologue by Jennifer VanBuren
Michael on My Shoulders by Patrick Carrington
Fighting the Sun by Patrick Carrington