The First Two Pages: “We Are All Strangers Here” by Art Taylor

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.

Without taking away from the normal Tuesday schedule of First Two Pages essays, I’m indulging a little editor’s prerogative here to post an essay of my own, reflecting on my story “We Are All Stranger Here” from the September/October issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, available now. As the essay below mentions, I’ve already written briefly about the genesis of the story for the EQMM blog, but this new piece focuses more directly on sentence-level and phrase-level writing choices in the opening section of the story—specifically with regard to the narrator’s self-awareness and her assessment of others . . . assessments and attention in all directions.

I hope readers will enjoy both the essay and the full story—and be sure to check out the entire issue, which has many terrific authors, terrific stories. I’ve already read the stories by Martin Edwards, Smita Harish Jain, Leigh Perry, and Joseph S. Walker—and looking forward to David Dean’s and Paul D. Marks’ and William Burton McCormick’s and Twist Phelan’s and… a great group here, glad to be among them.

And stay tuned for this coming Tuesday’s regularly scheduled First Two Pages—welcoming Alex Segura with an essay on his story for Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Warren Zevon!

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 offline.