Podcast #34 is now available for download here.
Jack Ketchum was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2009, where he lectured on crafting strong openings, worked with students, and critiqued their stories. In this podcast, Jack discusses what the author needs to accomplish with the first sentence, the first paragraph, and the first page. Jack explains the importance of getting the reader emotionally involved immediately, by providing information that is intriguing and draws the reader in. He explains different strategies the author can use, such as making the reader laugh, creating questions in the reader’s mind, or creating suspense. He also explains how to choose the right details for the opening. By presenting the class with a series of strong opening sentences from various stories and novels and studying what makes them intriguing, Jack reveals some of the subtle and powerful qualities of strong openings.
Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk—a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself. His short story “The Box” won a 1994 Bram Stoker Award from the HWA, his story “Gone” won again in 2000—and in 2003 he won Stokers for both best collection for Peaceable Kingdom and best long fiction for Closing Time. He has written eleven novels, four of which have recently been filmed—The Lost, The Girl Next Door, Red and Offspring. His stories are collected in The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard, Broken on the Wheel of Sex, Sleep Disorder (with Edward Lee), Peaceable Kingdom and Closing Time and Other Stories. His novella The Crossings was cited by Stephen King in his speech at the 2003 National Book Awards.
For more information about Odyssey, its graduates and instructors, please visit our website at http://www.odysseyworkshop.org.