The First Two Pages: “Crow’s Nest” by John M. Floyd

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.

This week, I’m welcoming to the First Two Pages one of the finest and most prolific short story writers that I know: John M. Floyd. John’s accolades and accomplishments are many. He’s published short stories in more than 250 different magazines, journals, anthologies and more. His stories have been included in three different volumes of the Best American Mystery Stories series. He’s been an Edgar Award finalist, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society has honored him with four Derringer Awards and with the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Derringer Award for lifetime achievement. Not only is John a tremendously accomplished writer, but he’s also very thoughtful and articulate about his craft and generous with his advice in those directions too, as you can see for yourself by browsing through his regular essays at SleuthSayers.

All that would offer plenty of reasons to welcome him to the First Two Pages, but his appearance this week is especially timely, since John, Tara Laskowski, and I will be discussing short stories on panel together this Saturday, July 25, as part of the free virtual conference Mystery in the Midlands, co-hosted by the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Our panel will be from 10:30-11:15 a.m.—and thanks to the organizers for the cool graphic they made for our part of the show as well! Please do register here to join us.

With that event on the horizon, I reached out to John and asked him if he could write an essay on a favorite recent story of his or one which offered some particularly good craft lessons or challenges that might be of interest. He chose “Crow’s Nest” from the January/February 2020 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Hope you’ll enjoy his reflections below on the first two pages of that story—a fine one! And check out more about John and his work at his website here.

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: “Crow’s Nest” by John M. Floyd

  1. Adam Meyer

    Great essay — and what a strong opening! Look forward to seeing all of you at your panel.

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