STARTING YOUR BOOK OUT ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Terry Pratchett has described the process of completing a first draft of a novel as “just telling yourself the story.” In first drafts in particular, it is important to get our story down on the page—no easy feat! But once we draft our novel and begin the revision process, how do we polish and even amp up the stakes in its opening pages? How do we not only invite our readers into the worlds of our characters, but entice them into staying on for the duration of our novels? The goal of this two-day intensive is to not only effectively “hook” our readers, but to hint at shades of the complete stories our novels aim to tell. Over the course of two afternoons, we will closely study the openings of a range of published novels, identify and evaluate the strategies we notice in each, and discuss how these beginnings not only relate to each novel’s larger narrative as a whole, but to what extent each opening lures us into the book’s thrall. We will also engage in a mini workshop in which we discuss the first three pages of the novel drafts each writer in the intensive is working on and apply the techniques we’ve gained from our examination across other works. Ideally, writers should be prepared to circulate the opening three pages of their novels in advance of the intensive. Our two-day workshop will culminate in generative exercises that challenge the ways we approach our novel beginnings.