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Crafting a Rich Beginning: A Swift Pure Cry, by Siobhan Dowd

I've been thinking a lot about beginnings - what captures us quickly and draws us into the center of story? We're told to start with action, bring the reader into the scene, and keep it moving. That's important advice, keeping us from lingering in backstory, setting the scene for too long, or wandering until we find the heart of the story. But an excellent beginning is something more. It has layers and meaning only revealed through reading the story, even while giving us the hints, the mood, the sense of the whole from the start. The beginning of A Swift Pure Cry, by Siobhan Dowd, lays out the entire book in a single predicative sweep, each image resonant with multiple meanings that will be

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