The First Two Pages: Robert Lopresti’s “The Chair Thief”

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. How do authors try to capture a reader’s attention at the start of a story or a novel? How are characters introduced, and how quickly is the plot set into motion? How do those first pages set the foundation for everything ahead?

The series quickly became one of my own favorites—instructive, enlightening, and just plain entertaining—and I was honored that Bonnie invited me to write about a couple of my own stories as well.

At the time of Bonnie’s death in August, more than 130 essays had been submitted, and her daughter Rachel continued to post the balance of those submissions through the end of October. The full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website, and I’d encourage you to explore them.

Rachel and her father Dennis invited me to continue “The First Two Pages” at my own site here—an invitation I was honored to accept—and as this second stage of the series kicks off, I’ve invited several contributors to the November/December issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to write essays. The issue features Bonnie’s story “Death Under Construction” from her Leah Abrams series, and—coincidentally—stories by three members of the group blog SleuthSayers, which Bonnie was part of. That confluence of events seemed a great opportunity to celebrate Bonnie’s work—her fiction, her blog—in a number of ways.

First up is Robert Lopresti, writing about his story “The Chair Thief.” Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through Rob’s essay. And stay tuned in the weeks ahead for contributions by Eve Fisher and R.T. Lawton as well.

Lopresti Chair Thief