The First Two Pages: “Never Have I Ever” by Anna Scotti

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.

It’s not every day that I host a regular contributor to The New Yorker at The First Two Pages; in fact, this is the first time I’ve done so. Anna Scotti‘s most recent poem in those august pages is “Where Babies Really Come From” (you can also hear her read it aloud there as well). But in addition to her poetry—and her journalism and her teaching and with a Y.A. novel coming out soon too—Anna has also recently found success in a new genre, with three stories appearing over the last year in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and a fourth still coming before year’s end (and that one will kick off a new series, so even more ahead).

Anna’s story in the September/October issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine is “Never Have I Ever.” As she mentions in her First Two Pages essay below, it’s more of a novella than a story; the first draft topped 16,000 words, and even cutting 3,000 of them, that’s still a long piece of fiction for most any magazine. Anna’s essay here is also one of the longer ones I’ve hosted, but rightfully, delightfully so. It’s a remarkable reflection on the story’s opening, with observations and insights that will likely enrich both readers’ enjoyment of the story and fellow writers’ approaches to their own craft.

Check out Anna’s website for more information on her poetry and fiction—and hope you enjoy the essay below, and the full story as well, on newsstands now!

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.


7 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Never Have I Ever” by Anna Scotti

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: The Good Cop by Peter Steiner – Art Taylor

  2. Victoria

    “If you don’t have an audience, what you’re writing is not a short story; it’s a journal entry” – advice I will henceforth carry with me. Thank you for this witty and edifying read.

    1. Art Taylor Post author

      Agreed, Victoria. In many of my workshops, we talk about the perceived reader, about the audience they’re envisioning, trying to reach. It’s often productive discussions.

  3. su

    I enjoyed this so much, I’m going out to buy the magazine so I can read your full story.
    Thank you for sharing your insights into the first two pages.

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