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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 one-day 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.”



No Instructor Specified

  1. Saturday, January 26, 10:00am-4:00pm


Saturday, January 26, 2019
6:00 pm - 12:00 am PST
Event Category:


San Francisco
2042 Balboa St.
San Francisco, CA United States
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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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