The First Two Pages: “Two Hundred Miles” by Margaret Lucke

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.

Rounding out a short series featuring contributors to the anthology Fault Lines: Stories by Northern California Crime Writers, I’m glad to welcome the collection’s editor, Margaret Lucke, to talk about her own story in the book, “Two Hundred Miles.” Reading the essay myself, two things stood out to me. First, I was intrigued that the first two pages of her story are, in fact, nearly half of the story’s full length—interesting to see how much is packed into such a short space. Second, I appreciated Lucke’s emphasis that though she is the editor here, she hadn’t chosen her own story for the collection; instead the story was picked by a committee who read the submissions. Many ways to work an anthology, of course, but always interesting to hear how certain stories find their way in.

In addition to her editing duties, Margaret also writes widely—as the author of four novels in two different series and of more than sixty short pieces, including stories and articles and (I’m fascinated!) scripts for mystery weekends. Such fun! Her novel A Relative Stranger was a finalist for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and a second novel, Snow Angel, continues that series. Her upcoming book House of Desire follows up House of Whispers—each with focus on “love, ghosts, and murder.” You can find out more about all her work at her website:

In addition to the essay below, check out the earlier essays by contributors to Fault Lines: Deborah Lacy on “Please See Me,” Ana Brazil on “Kate Chopin Tussles with a Novel Ending,” and Susan Kuchinskas on “No Fault Murder.”

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.