PW: “The teenage girl I kidnapped is living in my basement.” A first sentence that immediately grabs the reader. Would you discuss your creative approach to first sentences?
CT: In this technologically frenetic age, we are bombarded with information, to the point that we often become immune to its effects. For this reason, I tell my students that the first line of everything they write should instill a sense of urgency in the reader. The first line, I tell them, should provide conflict, and it should startle the reader. In short, it should give the reader no choice but to continue reading.