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“Several years ago, I asked the editor of one of my favorite literary journals what she, as an editor, is looking for as she begins to ‘cold read’ a new piece,” says instructor Lori Ostlund. “Her answer? ‘I am looking for the burden to shift.’ What she meant is that she is looking for that buy-in moment, that turning point where she relaxes into the story because she senses that the writer is in charge.”

What is it that “shifts the burden” and makes readers feel that they want to spend time inside a writer’s world? In this online class, we will focus on first lines and first paragraphs: what they should do versus what creates confusion and keeps the burden on the reader. We will discuss specific types of beginnings and look at examples of some great beginnings, analyzing what makes them great. Then, we will apply these ideas to the first lines and paragraphs of stories in a recent issue of Best American Short Stories, and, if time allows, participants will have the opportunity to brainstorm their own first lines inspired by some of the examples we look at in class.

"Plan to bring two first paragraphs of an in-progress story or novel, which we will workshop during class," says Lori. "You will leave with specific feedback on two opening paragraphs as well as a better understanding of how to write and revise beginnings in the future. The class will be interactive and practical with an eye toward writing better openings that will compel readers to keep reading.”


About The Writing Salon's Remote Classes

You will be able to participate in live class meetings via Zoom videoconference. To attend classes, you'll need a phone, tablet or computer and access to the internet. You can participate in the class from wherever you'd like, whether on your living room couch or in your office. Before your class meets, you'll receive an email from The Writing Salon with more information about Zoom and your remote class. If you have any questions about remote learning, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at hello@writingsalons.com.



No Instructor Specified

  1. Live Zoom Meeting: Saturday, April 16, 10:00am-1:00pm
  2. Live Zoom Meeting: Saturday, April 23, 10:00am-1:00pm
  • Lori is the best writing teacher I've ever had and I will take any class she offers as long as I don't have any scheduling conflicts.



Saturday, April 16, 2022 @ 5:00 pm PDT
Saturday, April 23, 2022 @ 8:00 pm PDT
Event Categories:


Lori Ostlund


Online (SF Zoom)
Live Remote Meetings, ZOOM
+ Google Map


Cancellation Policy

10 days or more before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 10% fee OR a refund minus a 20% fee.

3-9 days before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 20% fee OR a refund minus a 30% fee.

2 days or less before the start date for a class, the registrant will not receive a credit or a refund.

The Writing Salon cannot offer refunds, credits, or makeup sessions for classes a student might miss.

In the event of an emergency, we may consider a refund or credit, whether partial or full. We review these requests on a case-by-case basis, and we ask that you notify us as near as possible to the start date for the class.

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