The First Two Pages: “Chasing the Straight” by Trey R. Barker

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.

The last three weeks at the First Two Pages have featured contributors to the anthology The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, edited by Michael Bracken. James A. Hearn wrote on his story “Trip Among the Bluebonnets,” Mark Troy on his story “Shaft on Wheels,” and Bev Vincent on his story “The Patience of Kane.” Wrapping up the series today is Trey R. Barker on “Chasing the Straight,” and as he explains in his essay below, he had some very definite ideas about what the story’s opening needed—and what it didn’t need—even as he admits, “I’m an organic writer and I usually just jump in.” (The two aren’t incompatible, of course; pre-thoughts or diving in without them, then reading, reflection, revision—many stages to the process.)

Trey R. Barker is the author of the Jace Salome novels, as well as the Barefield Trilogy. He also wrote The Unknowing, No Harder PrisonThe Cancer Chronicles, and Hostage, as well as hundreds of short stories spanning every genre from horror to crime. A native of west Texas, Barker was once a journalist and now works with the Bureau County Sheriff’s Office in north-central Illinois, as a patrol sergeant and an investigator for the Illinois Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Hope you enjoy this glance at Trey’s fiction here—and check out more of his work at his website too.

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.


1 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Chasing the Straight” by Trey R. Barker

  1. Mark Troy

    Goddam, you write an essay like you write fiction. “Violent brevity in prose” “short and punchy” “a single sentence to hit multiple foundational points.” Violent, punchy, hit. I raise my glass to your essay and your story.


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