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Cullman Center Institute for Teachers: Straight out of the Gate: That All-Important First Page


JOHN WRAY, Instructor

At the risk of trumpeting the obvious from the treetops (and/or the roof of The New York Public Library): no matter how great your story, how compelling your characters, and how relevant and well-conceived your themes, if you don't hook your reader by the end of the first page, you're sunk. We'll look at a number of extraordinary beginnings, then write some of our own. The rest of your novel will, needless to say, take care of itself.  

John Wray’s novels – The Right Hand of Sleep, Canaan's Tongue, and Lowboy – have won many awards. In 2007, Granta included him on its list of best American novelists under the age of 35. He also writes nonfiction for Esquire, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine. At the Cullman Center, he is working on a novel, The Lost Time Accidents, about a century in the life of a family of renegade physicists.