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. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.
Earlier this year, Nikki Bonanni asked me to lead the afternoon craft session at Deadly Ink Academy, the first day of this past summer’s Deadly Ink Mystery Conference. My session focused on pacing—a crash course of sorts in plotting, escalating conflict, and more with an eye toward helping aspiring writers get going on their stories. At least that’s what I thought.
Several exercises are part of the presentation, including writing a six-sentence story and fleshing it out using dialogue, narration, description, exposition, and interiority—the latter drawn from Michael Kardos’ terrific book The Art and Craft of Fiction. Quickly, it became clear that one “aspiring writer” in the front row was nailing each exercise step after step, crafting story and scene with tremendous wit, cleverness, and precision. What could I possibly teach him? Or the several others who soon joined in with stellar contributions?
Turns out many of the workshop attendees were published authors already working at the peak of their craft: Teel James Glenn the first I mentioned above, along with Carol Gyzander, Christopher Ryan, and others who’ve since become fine friends.
Teel and I in particular bonded over a section of my powerpoint on Lester Dent’s master plot recipe—so I was thrilled when he offered to write a First Two Pages essay about one of his stories literally in the Lester Dent tradition: “The Prometheus Effect” from the anthology The New Adventures of Lynn Lash, stories featuring Dent’s early characters.
Teel has written widely across genres in both novels, anthologies, and magazines, the latter including Weird Tales, Spinetingler, SciFan, Mad, Fantasy Tales, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. He’s also had wide experiences beyond writing, including “a forty-year career as a stuntman, fight choreographer, swordmaster, jouster, illustrator, storyteller, bodyguard, actor and haunted house barker.” You can find out more at his website or his blog.
In the meantime, enjoy this intro to “The Prometheus Effect”—a killer first two pages that will leave you wanting the full novella for sure.
Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.