Craft Capsule: Good Sense

Christina Baker Kline

This is the second in a series of micro craft essays exploring the finer points of writing fiction. Check back each week for a new Craft Capsule.


The problem of beginning…

The Southern novelist and poet George Garrett, who was director of creative writing at the University of Virginia when I was a graduate student there, always said that if you're having trouble getting into a chapter or a scene you should use all five senses right at the start, preferably in the first paragraph. Touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight. Your scene will jump to life, and you’ll have an easier time falling into the dream world of the story.

On a related note, Gustave Flaubert kept rotten apples in his desk drawer to evoke autumn when writing scenes that took place in that season....


Christina Baker Kline is the author of six novels, including A Piece of the World, published this month by William Morrow. Her website is