The First Two Pages: Maxine Unleashes Doomsday by Nick Kolakowski

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.

A couple of years back, Nick Kolakowski contributed one of my favorite essays to the First Two Pages—some reflections on his ThugLit story “A Nice Pair of Guns.” It’s an essay I’ve referred to often in terms of thinking about story structure, about story openings and pacing, and about listening to your own instincts (instead of following conventional wisdom) as you write and revise. So when Nick asked to write an essay on the opening pages of his latest book, Maxine Unleashes Doomsday, I said yes immediately; I felt sure he’d be delivering again some thoughtful insights on craft and storytelling—and I was right, as you’ll see below.

In addition to the new book, Nick is also author of the crime thriller Boise Longpig Hunting Club; both that book and Maxine are published by Down & Out Books. His short crime fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Mystery Tribune, and various anthologies. Find out more about his work at his website, and connect with him on Twitter at @nkolakowski.

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.