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First chapters of novels serve a variety of functions—hooking and reeling the reader in, establishing character, previewing what’s to come, and pushing the reader to stay engaged. For the writer, that opening chapter can be both frustrating and terrifying. At best, the opening is a springboard for the rest of the novel, and it’s easy to get mired in the quest to make it “perfect” before moving on.
In this workshop, we’ll look closely at several “first chapters” of novels (provided ahead of time), both well-known and, perhaps, less so. How does the author “open the curtain” for the rest of the novel in a way that sets up what is to follow? What elements exist to engage the reader and make them want to continue on the journey? The class is open to readers and writers of all levels of experience.
Warren Read is the author of the novels, One Simple Thing (2021, Ig Publishing), and Ash Falls (2017, Ig Publishing). In 2009 his memoir, The Lyncher in Me was released by Borealis Books. His fiction has appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, Mud Season Review, Sliver of Stone, Inklette, Switchback Magazine and the Christmas issue of East Bay Review. He is an assistant principal in Bainbridge Island, WA; in 2015 he received his MFA in from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Learn more about Warren at www.warren-read.com.