Saturday, October 5, 2013

One-word Story Openings?

You SURE about that?
Ayanti and Una, in their room full of books, misquote…

Ayanti: Stories must begin well. The first line must be a story in itself. For example, David Copperfield begins, “I was born.”

Una: You sure about that? As I recall the first chapter was called “I Am Born,” but the first sentence actually goes something like, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life…” and on into a Dickensian discourse. If you’re looking for a short sharp sentence to begin a novel, how about Akutagawa’s Rashomon? I think it opens with one word. ” (ame)… meaning “Rain.” Such a wet beginning.

Ayanti: I don’t recall that as the first sentence. More like, “A man was waiting under the Rashomon Gate in the rain.”

Una: Peut-être. The memory plays tricks.

The first line of a story may be short or long.

I cannot find any one-word sentences beginning a story.

But some are short as in, “I am an invisible man." Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man. (1952).

Or longer as in, “I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.” Edith Wharton: Ethan Frome. (1911).

Akutagawa might have begun Rashomon in a similar way as Wharton. This is also known as the Rashomon Effect which is his exploration of four people's interpretations of a violent crime.

Peut-être. The memory plays tricks.

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