Margie Lawson

Changing your Writing World

Your First 5 Pages: Reader Glue

We all know what it’s like to pick up a book and be sucked into the fictional world. You sense that you can trust the author and suspend disbelief to go on a journey. But how do your favorite authors do that? In this class you will have lessons and homework. You will get input from the instructor as well as other students. You will walk away with a solid, compelling, well-polished start to your novel.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why character is more important than plot
  • The difference between starting with conflict vs starting with crisis
  • When you need a prologue, and when you don’t
  • What makes a great first sentence
  • How to find your inciting incident
  • The important factors of a good beginning
  • Tools learned here will advance your craft of writing

Who should take this course:

  • Writers who have written a beginning
  • Submitting writers who want their beginning to shine
  • Contest entrants
  • Writers wanting to improve their craft

Lesson Plan

LESSON ONE: Where to Begin?

  • It's about the character
  • Anchor the Reader
  • Types of beginnings
  • Pros and Cons of Prologues
  • First lines, and what makes a good one.

LESSON TWO:   Backstory

  • Why Does it have such a bad rep?
  • rules
  • Compelling vs blah
  • Making backstory do double-duty

LESSON THREE:  All the Rest

  • What makes a compelling beginning?
  • How to Hook a Reader
  • Details
  • Be the Dude
  • Trust your Reader
  • Craft Tips

BONUS CONTENT:  Opening checklist
Every lesson comes with reference material; great blogs and articles explaining salient points.Every lesson has Homework. We'll be posting our beginnings, receiving feedback, and revising.
You should walk away with a shiny, compelling, perfect beginning!


Laura Drake Headshot

Laura Drake, 2014 RITA Winner for Best First Novel, doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. After a total of three novels, and 417 queries, in June of 2011, she scored an agent — Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill and Associates.

She now has twelve published novels. The first, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 RWA RITA for Best First Book. When she isn’t writing, she speaks to writers groups and teaches online. She is a founder of Women’s Fiction Writers Association as well as the Award-Winning, Writers in the Storm Blog. Laura is a multi-Margie immersion grad. She credits Margie with taking her from ‘good’ to ‘sold’!

Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.




Writers in the Storm



This course helped me see my first pages in a new light.

Rated 5 out of 5
January 25, 2020

I highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to grab readers with their opening pages. This course came at a perfect moment for me as I started revising my novel. Laura's lecture materials and the resources she provided were a great overview of what our first pages should be. Laura took us through several edits of our opening pages, showing where the prose could be tightened, and where we had left things off the page. Her comments and suggested edits were thoughtful, informative, and spot on. I finished the class with a better understanding of how to edit my work. I am more confident of the quality of my first five pages. Thanks, Laura, for a great class!

Your First 5 Pages: Reader Glue 1
Barbara Ristine

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