Friday, April 15, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Gary A. Braunbeck

Photo by Lucy A. Snyder

EXCERPT from "You Have to Start with Something So It Might As Well Be Something Like This" by Gary A. Braunbeck in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction:

Opening lines.

I have grown to hate them.

One of the unpleasant realities we have to face as writers today is that we have, on average, about 500 words in which to grab and hold a reader's interest when writing a short story, twenty-five to fifty pages if it's a novel. I, for one, think this unfair, but I also voted for Al Gore, so what the hell do I know? Yes, it would be nice, be wonderful, be just oh-so-peachy if we lived in a world where readers had the patience and the time to be eased into a narrative, to be seduced by the ebb and flow of the language, the musical composition of sentences, the overall rhythm and atmosphere filtered by writers through their own sensibilities and re-interpreted for readers on the printed page as a magnificent feast of words.

Gary A. Braunbeck is a prolific author who writes mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mainstream literature. The author of 19 books and 200 short stories, his fiction has been translated into Japanese, French, Italian, Russian and German and has received several awards, including five Bram Stoker Awards, one for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction in 2003 for "Duty" and in 2005 for "We Now Pause for Station Identification"; his collection Destinations Unknown won a Stoker in 2006. His novella "Kiss of the Mudman" received the International Horror Guild Award for Long Fiction in 2005.

He also served a term as president of the Horror Writers Association. He was born in Newark, Ohio; this city that serves as the model for the fictitious Cedar Hill in many of his stories. The Cedar Hill stories are collected in Graveyard People and Home Before Dark. He is married to Lucy Snyder, a science fiction/fantasy writer, and they reside together in Columbus, Ohio. His nonfiction writing book Fear In A Handful Of Dust: Horror As A Way Of Life has been used as a text by several college writing classes. Gary is an adjunct professor at Seton Hill University. Find Gary online at

1 comment:

  1. Gary, I do not question your numbers on how long a writer has to "grab and hold a reader's interest," when you talk about the average reader." But coming from the perspective of an avid mystery and thriller reader, I have a bad habit. I open the book, read the first page, and if there is not some action to pull me in, I put the book down. As a writer I try to keep this in mind. As a reader, I need to be fairer to the author.