The First Two Pages: “Yorkshire Ripper” by Mysti Berry

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.

What caught my attention first about Mysti Berry‘s story “Yorkshire Ripper” in the new issue of Alfred Hithcock’s Mystery Magazine was the conversation between the narrator and her copy editor about adverbs. “Pauline,” the narrator tells her office nemesis, “it’s a commonly accepted best practice in every form of writing to remove adverbs and replace them with strong verbs and nouns. Adverbs weaken a sentence.”

To which Pauline replies: “That’s a matter of opinion.”

I felt my own frustration building, and the conversation just escalates from there.

I’m glad to host Mysti today talking about this scene and other aspects of the first two pages of her story. Mysti is an accomplished short story writer whose work has appeared in both Alfred Hitchcock’s and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, among other publications. And she’s also an editor of short fiction—witness her work on the 2018 anthology Low Down Dirty Vote, with proceeds benefiting the ACLU’s work to combat voter suppression.

Check out Mysti’s website for more information about her work—and check out the new issue of AHMM for her full story “Yorkshire Ripper” as well as short fiction by Meredith Anthony, Eve Fisher, Jim Fusilli, Janice Law, and many more.

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.


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