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The Writer's Guide to Beginnings by William Martin, Paula Munier

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Chapter Two

The End Is Where We Start From

Scene One

“What we call the beginning is often the end.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

—T.S. Eliot

“In the long run, I write novels. In the short run, I write scenes.”

—Timothy Hallinan

The most important thing your opening needs to do is this: Keep the reader reading.

As someone who reads thousands of story openings every year—and no, I’m not exaggerating—I can tell you that surprisingly few keep the reader reading. At our agency, we ask writers to include the first ten pages of their stories in their query letters. We do that because we need to see the story itself—not just the pitch for the story.

I receive some ten-thousand queries a year. I also read the work of hundreds of writers ...

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