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A Needle Pulling Thread: How to Write Your Story's Beginning

  • The Writers' Workshoppe & Imprint Books 820 Water Street Port Townsend, WA, 98368 United States (map)



Thou marvell'st at my words, but hold thee still; Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.' William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Act III, Scene 2.

A dynamic beginning to your novel or memoir is where you catch and hold, or lose, the interest of readers. Opening scenes introduce readers to your protagonist, her/his world, goals, what's at stake, possible consequences of action or inaction, and hints at or even reveals your story's themes. Given all that a beginning must do, it's no wonder that an opening scene is often the most difficult to write. 

This workshop will look at several ways to approach the opening scene, with examples from classic, literary and commercial fiction and memoir. Participants are welcome to bring in the first 500 words of a work-in-progress to share with the group for feedback (optional, but strongly encouraged). Writing prompts will be used to help you find or create depth and tension in your opening scene.