The First Two Pages: “Moe’s Seafood House” by Ramona DeFelice Long

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.

Ramona DeFelice Long is a prolific writer of short stories, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and more. Just scanning a list of recent works reveals a wide range of genres and publications, ranging from flash fiction in the Parhelion Literary Magazine and the Fox Chase Review to short stories in Philadelphia Stories and Currents to a personal essay in The Delmarva Review to various guest blogs and…. Well, you can (and should!) read through the bibliography of her publications at her website here.

But Ramona’s writing is only a part of what she does. She’s also a highly regarded and much-sought editor, and she’s an online writing teacher as well—and those of you who follow her on social media as I do know how encouraging she is there too, to aspiring writers and veterans alike.

I’m pleased to host Ramona today talking about “Moe’s Seafood House,” her new story for Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and the specific choices she made there to set character in motion, lay the seeds for conflict, and maneuver her way through tone—with more tonal shifts ahead already in mind.

This is the second of a series featuring contributors to the latest issue of Black Cat. Last week, I hosted Steve Liskow reflecting on his story “Messin’ With The Kid,” and next week Su Kopil will talk about “Mud Season.” Stay tuned!

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.


8 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Moe’s Seafood House” by Ramona DeFelice Long

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Mud Season” by Su Kopil – Art Taylor

  2. Glory Wade

    This was great–the first two pages of the story and the author’s explanation. I must think more about this and apply the technique in my writing. Thank you for sharing. I just saw this link in the Guppies-Sisters in Crime Digest from yesterday. So glad I clicked on it.

  3. Hilary

    Fascinating to hear the story from the author’s viewpoint. A calculated drawing the reader in to a reassuring setting where we want to feel at home, despite the niggling discomfort. I’m not sure I’ll feel fully at ease next time I eat out, particularly if the staff are nice, but I am sure I’ll buy this issue. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Malena E.

    Thank you Ramona for your story and the inside look at how you wrote it. Very informative and thoughtful post. I’m off to buy the #4 Edition of Black Cat Mystery Magazine, to read the full story.
    And thank you Art Taylor for hosting this. I’ve only just discovered this website/blog and will definitely visit again.

    1. Ramona DeFelice Long

      Malena, it is a great series, isn’t it? I have been reading it for a while, and it’s always so insightful. I am very grateful to Art for including my story.

      Wildside does a wonderful job with the magazine. I think you’ll enjoy it!

  5. Patricia Dusenbury

    I read the story in the latest BCMM before reading this post and enjoyed it. Learning what the author was thinking adds to the pleasure. Well done, and if you have-not read “Moe’s Seafood House,” do yourself a favor. I knew something was very wrong, but I did not see what until it happened. Stunning end.

    1. Ramona DeFelice Long

      Patricia, thank you for the kind words. Writing “Moe’s” was a challenge because I had to double, triple, quadruple check what each character said to make sure I didn’t give away anything I didn’t want to give away.

      Some stories flow like a river; others require planning every step. This was the latter. Thank goodness I have an excellent critique partner!

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