10-Minute Writer's Workshop: James McBride

May 4, 2016

"Kill 'em and leave" was James Brown's commandment to his band before every show...it's also the title of a biography of the soul legend, the latest by James McBride. The National Book Award winner is also a musician and composer. We sat down with him just before his appearance at the Writers in the Loft series at the Music Hall Loft in Portsmouth, NH.


Credit Sara Plourde

What's harder to write - the first sentence or the last?

The first sentence, by a lot...because you're framing the story as soon as your pen hits the page, so you better aim your gun in the right direction - pardon the bad metaphor - but you better be shooting straight. Otherwise your characters will run away with you.

Do you edit as you go, and rewrite that sentence, or do you wait until the end?

I rewrite everything...usually right after I write it. Sometimes I'll push into the first thirty or forty pages and just leave it alone, but ultimately I come back to it, just to make sure the building blocks of the story are solid.

Listen for the full interview!