Setting the Story Table

I’ve been thinking this week about a humor writing workshop I took not long ago (for, gasp!, adult writing!), where we were talking about story introductions.

One writer (who also happened to be an editor) said writing a compelling story/piece opening is like setting the table for guests. I haven’t been able to get that analogy out of my head ever since. We, as writers, need to welcome our guests and set expectations as a good host would.

What would someone sitting down in front of my manuscript expect, based on what I’m serving on that first page/spread (and through the title)? And when it’s time to stand up, would they leave that table satisfied? These are challenging but necessary questions for any host–especially if we want our guests to visit with us again.

There’s no use putting a soup spoon down and not serving soup! Or a lobster bib, but no lobster. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be considered.

How are you setting your latest story’s table?