AISFP 247 – Great Opening Lines, Part 2: Novels (Gregory Frost at Paradise ICON)

This lecture was given as part of Paradise ICON workshops headed by author, Catherine Schaff-Stump. Today’s episode is the second part of two from Gregory Frost’s lecture. Part One focused on short stories. The next ICON, in Cedar Rapids, IA, will be held from October 31-November 2, 2014. Guests of Honor will be Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch, with Jim C. Hines as the Toastmaster.

Forgive the background noise, but I feel Greg’s lecture is way too valuable to not share. Gregory was kind enough to share his notes in PDF form: Beginnings-Examples Gregory Frost

About Gregory Frost:

Gregory Frost is the author of novels including the Shadowbridge series (Del Rey) and Fitcher’s Brides (Tor).

His short stories have appeared most recently in Asimov’s, Supernatural Noir (Ellen Datlow, ed.) and Apex Magazine.

He’s director of the fiction writing workshop at Swarthmore College.

Moreover, fellow Philadelphian Michael Swanwick eloquently said of Gregory in 1994 “This is what you have to know in order to understand Gregory Frost… That fire couldn’t stop him, or poverty, or neglect. That he did what it took to get where he wanted to go. Now you know and now you understand. Gregory Frost has ambitions, and they are not modest ones.“

To learn more, follow him on twitter (@gregory_frost) or visit

The notebook that Greg uses to write his first draft. At the end he mentions how he uses this for each novel and his latest novel in progress, a historical thriller/horror.

Novels mentioned as examples:

First, the opening as establishing shot/anchor:
Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary
Richard Paul Russo, Ship of Fools
Ray Bradbury prologue to The Martian Chronicles

In Medias Res (In the midst of things)
Philip K. Dick, Ubik
Michael Faber, Under the Skin
Holly Black, Tithe
Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union

1st Person In Medias Res

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
Charles Stross, The Atrocity Archives

One Sentence Openers (the art of the short story author)
Michael Swanwick, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter
Robert Sheckley, Immortality, Inc.
William Gibson, Neuromancer

2013 Participants of Paradise Icon

Catherine Schaff-Stump, author of Hulk Hercules: Professional Wrestler
Brent Bowen, author of “100 Beats” on the Toasted Cake podcast
Lauren Teffeau, author of “Chicken Feet”
George Galuschak, author of “The Wanting Game”
Christopher Cornell, author of “Growing Season” in Bewildering Stories, Issue 544
Timothy C. Ward, author of Cornhusker: Demon Gene (A Short Story)
Ransom Noble, author of The Art of Science
Shannon Ryan, author of Minion of Evil and Fangs for Nothing.
Timothy C. Ward
Executive Producer

Timothy C. Ward has been podcasting since 2010, first as AudioTim, and now with AISFP. His first publication, Cornhusker: Demon Gene (A Short Story), is available on Kindle for $.99. His novel in progress, Kaimerus, is described as “Firefly crashes on Avatar and wakes up 28 Days Later.”

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  1. Danny Terry says

    Great Episode. Thank you.

    My questions is, at the end of the show, Gregory mentions a Scene Writing Grid in pdf format. I believe he says “Nancy’s scene writing grid” but I didn’t catch a last name or a link to find this tool. It sounds great.

    I was hoping you could direct me on where to go to find it or maybe Gregory would be nice enough to share it.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Danny,

      Nancy Kress is the author of that handout. She teaches across the country at various con’s and retreats and has asked that I keep the handout exclusive to her students. I have a lecture recorded of her going through it, so stay tuned to the podcast for its release.

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