2016 Workshop Description

Crafting the Novel

Instructor: James W. Hall

The opening of a novel (the first chapter or the first dozen pages) is critical. Most editors and readers sample the opening and make their decision very quickly about whether to continue to read or put the book aside. In successful novels, the DNA of the entire book is present in the first few pages. The plot, the tone, the voice, the point of view, the setting, the style, the theme, the appeal of the character are all present in this critical section of the book. As important as these elements are, the hook is even more important. Why should we read this story? What's appealing about it? What is it about the plot that is immediately gripping?

We will look at a few movie openings-which compress these elements into images and actions and dialogue-to get some ideas about do's and don'ts. By looking at what works well and identifying the choices the filmmaker/storyteller made, we will gather techniques and strategies to apply to our written stories and manuscript discussions during this workshop. This class will be of interest to those writing novels in any subgenre.