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Quote wall: Colum McCann

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On the bulletin board above my desk, I keep a handful of quotes that have taught me something, or that I hope to learn from.

Here's one:

A first line should open up your rib cage. It should reach in and twist your heart backward. It should suggest that the world will never be the same again.

—Colum McCann, Letters to a Young Writer

I both love and resent this advice. Like any writer, I want to write a first line that sets a reader on fire, that yanks them right into my story and refuses to let them back away. Simultaneously, I loathe the pressure put on a first line. I like a little freedom to let something build.

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