Rumaan’s first exercise really helped me go back to basics to dissect and understand exactly why I like the writing I like. I chose to rewrite and examine five sentences from the most recent book I read and loved: Meghan Daum’s collection of essays Unspeakable.
While looking through, I noticed that first sentences are fascinating. When written well, they can do so much heavy lifting. For example, the first sentence of Meghan’s essay “Matricide” introduces the tension of the coming essay, sets up a mystery, turns expectations on their head:
“People who weren’t there like to say that my mother died at home surrounded by loving family.”
She then goes on to write about her mother’s death and the tension between prescribed emotion and the real thing. I’m definitely going to take the lesson of these first sentences into my own writing as a sort of north star for any story. Plus, I love that I can feel successful and learn a ton without even putting pen to paper (makes my commute feel so much more productive). Thanks Rumaan!