One more thing from that stroll down memory lane. One young man asked me how much I read of a manuscript before I reject it. I told the students that after all these years, I pretty much know by the first paragraph. The young man said Ooof. I thought I was demonstrating my confidence as a reader gained over many years, but of course from their vantage point I had just become the rim greaper.
Then he asked what I look for in a first paragraph to keep me reading. Baby teeth, silver charms, brass buckles, nameless women, faceless men. I want that thing called language, just one startling simile. Or VOICE. Or tap shoes, orthodontia, a character named Buck, or Puck, or Peanut, or Slim. I want I want I want to see five rats walking down the street, I want you to bring me the tattoo of Lena Dunham, Johnny Carson’s cravat, the last great kiss, or good kiss, or mediocre kiss or dry mouth or vermouth. I want a writer who is in so control so I can relax.
How much of a book do you read before you quit?
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