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Famous Beginnings
Enc 1101 | Composition One | 2020
A list of famous beginnings from short stories
Famous Beginnings
1. The sexton stood in the porch of Milford meetinghouse, pulling busily at the
bell-rope. – Nathaniel Hawthorne
2. The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he
ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.-Edgar Allan Poe
3. It was twilight. A thick wet snow is slowly twirling around the newly lighted street
lamps, and lying in soft thin layers on roofs, on horses’ backs, on people’s shoulders
and hats.
– Anton Chekhov
4. A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating
over and over:
“Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That’s all right!”
– Kate Chopin
5. None of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level, and were
fastened upon the waves that swept toward them.
– Stephen Crane
6. The “Nellie,” a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails,
and was at rest. – Joseph Conrad
7. The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. – Ernest
8. Life was very hard for the Whipples. – Katherine Anne Porter
9. The store in which the Justice of the Peace’s court was sitting smelled of cheese.
– William Faulkner
10. The high gray-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky
and from all the rest of the world. – John Steinbeck
Please come to class prepared to answer any of these questions I may ask you.
What is one thing they all have in common (please do not say “they are famous.”)?
Have you read any of these stories? I suggest choosing one to read, or even a novel,
this semester to help placed vocabulary into your short-term memory.
John Steinbeck uses a technique called a “microcosm”. Please look up the term as I
may ask you about it during class.
Name three ways these introductory sentences for famous short stories grab the
reader’s attention.
This should be a revision of the first line you are using for your first essay. You may revise
before we review the first draft during the next class.
We will conduct an exercise during class where you will look up your own “famous
beginning” or great first sentence. This may be from a book, TV, film, poem, play, nonfiction.

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