Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


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 be expected to give feedback to others, as well. 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 is a New York and self-published published author of Women's Fiction and Romance.

Her romance series, Sweet on a Cowboy, is set in the world of professional bull riding.  Her debut, The Sweet Spot, was a double-finalist, then won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 11 more books and is under contract for two more. She is a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Assn, Writers in the Storm blog, as well as a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West.

Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.




Writers in the Storm




Even better than expected

Rated 5 out of 5
May 1, 2021

I expected this class to be beneficial since friends of mine recommended it. But it was far above and beyond what I expected. Laura Drake was attentive to detail and responded in a very timely manner to every single question with clarity and an element of deep understanding. She took great care and consideration to everyone's work and I feel like I learned through the process how to make the rest of my book shine like my first five shine now. I absolutely highly recommend it.

Avatar for Charmaine Wakefield
Charmaine Wakefield

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!

Avatar for Barbara Ristine
Barbara Ristine

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