Franklin: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Chapter 1

Plot Summary (Preparatory Questions)
Opening Line

Plot Summary (Preparatory Questions)

“Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.”

What had happened before? (flashback)

  • Rutherford girl missing
  • severe weather
  • farming activities

Does Larry like his farming activities?

What do we learn about his living conditions?

What information is given about Larry’s parents?



Opening Line

The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.

What can be said about the opening lines of narrations:

All great authors know that a killer first line is almost more important than the first few pages, and authors put in hours of work just to get the right sentence on paper.

Mary Jane Hathaway, 38 Best First Lines in Novels, Huffingtonpost, 12/18/2015

Is the the opening line in Tom Franklin’s novel Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter a “killer first line”?

  • opens in the midst of action (in medias res)
  • offers/suggests topics for sensation seekers
  • raises questions
    • Who is the Rutherford girl?
    • Why is she missing?  (associations: crime, murder, kidnapping, abuse etc.)
    • Who is Larry Ott? Where does he live?
    • Why are the Rutherford girl and Larry Ott mentioned in one sentence? Does the narrator want us to believe that there is a connection? What connection?
    • “a monster” waiting in a house and someone who is about to return home – what is going to happen?

Wikipedia: Opening Sentence

Wikipedia: Sensation Seeking

Wikipedia: Suspense (English)

Wikipedia: Suspense (German)

What functions does the opening line serve?

  • creating suspense
  • exposition
    • introduction of progatonist: Larry Ott
    • suggestion of themes/motifs: missing girls, horror


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