The First Two Pages: “Punch Drunk” by William Ade

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.

We’re continuing a celebration of the new anthology Three Strikes—You’re Dead! edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley, and featuring sports-themed short fiction by William Ade, Kathryn Prater Bomey, Maddi Davidson, Lynne Ewing, Barb Goffman, Sherry Harris, Smita Harish Jain, Adam Meyer, Alan Orloff, Rosalie Spielman, Shannon Taft, F. J. Talley, Robin Templeton, and Joseph S. Walker. Last week, on the anthology’s publication day, Joseph Walker shared some thoughts on “And Now, An Inspiring Story of Tragedy Overcome,” and this week, William Ade introduces his story, “Punch Drunk”—and we’ll be hosting Kathryn Prater Bomey next week, so stay tuned!

Ade’s latest book is the collection Big Scream in a Small Town, written under the name Nic Knuckles and published in January 2024 by Level Best Books, which also published Ade’s crime novel Do It for Daisy in 2021. Ade’s other novels include The Man Who Fixed Things (2023), Art of Absolution (2020), and the serialized The Inevitable Failure of Jonathan Golding (2022), as well as the short story collection, No Time for His Nonsense. You can find out more about Ade at or about his work as Nic Knuckles at

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.