Killer Openings


We know them when we read them. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” “I am an invisible man.”** Killer Openings. But how do we write them ourselves?

In this weekend workshop, we’ll discuss the importance of not just a killer opening line, but also a strong opening paragraph, a compelling first few pages, and a powerful first chapter that moves our novels or memoirs forward. If we create “killer openings,” then agents will return our emails, editors will buy our manuscripts, readers will keep turning our pages, and pretty soon, we’ll be checking out real estate listings in the south of France. Right? But there’s another good reason for writing a compelling opening. When our first chapter includes all of the elements that will set up our novels or memoirs for success, then our books become that much easier to write, because our first chapter has become a road map.

This weekend workshop is for writers of all levels, from beginners who have never written a novel or memoir before, to intermediate authors who are in the process of revision, to advanced authors who are on their third book.

This is a mostly generative workshop in which we will be working on new material, but of course, if you are already writing or revising a novel or memoir, you should feel free to apply our exercises to your current project. We will be generating new material, doing exercises and assignments, and sharing our writings and ideas on a volunteer basis throughout the weekend. On Sunday, you are welcome to share your opening page (up to 300 words) with the class and receive feedback if you like. (You don’t need to print out; you can just read aloud.)

Writers will leave the workshop with an understanding of what makes a killer first line, first paragraph, first page, first chapter, and first act, will have written some of their killer opening, and will be well on their way to writing a killer book.

**opening lines from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (trans. Constance Garnett); and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments. On Sunday, we will share the opening first page (up to 300 words), which you are welcome to write/revise over the weekend or bring from home.  We will provide verbal feedback on the writing you produce during our weekend.

Hybrid Forms
Science Fiction
Short Story
Speculative Fiction
Young Adult
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