RWA offers you On Demand Courses designed to continue your professional development as an author.

(Please note this page is still in development as we work out our courses and will be updated with links and information as they become available.)

Individual Mentoring – Focusing on the First Five Pages

– with Samantha Bond

Are you ready to submit your work to an agent or publisher? Want to ensure your work has the best chance to impress? Then you’d better make sure your fist few pages “sing”. We all know that publishing professionals receive thousands of submissions each year and they’re often so busy that if your work fails to grab them in that first page or two, they won’t persist past that. Sending your work out into the world is a harrowing experience, but if you get those first five pages right, it has a far better chance of success.

The object of this on-demand workshop is to get those first five pages in top shape. My years of mentoring at the TAFE and university level have shown me the best way to improve written work is to focus on the individual writer. Group activities are great, but individual feddback is for serious writers. You’ll learn not only how to improve your first pages, but will learn lessons applicable to your whole manuscript.

This course starts with a technical lesson on what the writer needs to do in the first five pages. The macro elements concentrate on issues such as character, genre, setting, time period, introductory hook, introducing the romance, posing the story question and whether to include a prologue or not. The micro elements teach elements of style to polish your work until it’s shiny-bright.

You’ll undertake lessons at your own pace, submit exercises for individual feedback and, at the end, you’ll submit your first five pages for an in-depth critique on what you’re doing well and what could use some work.

Once your first five are as focused, impressive and as  unput-downable as can be, they’re ready for release into the publishing domain…

Course breakdown:

PART 1: The big picture

  1. Hook—what is a hook, and have you included one to make your reader desperate to continue reading your story and find out what happens next?
  2. Where to start—what is in medias res, and how much set-up should you include?
  3. To prologue or not to prologue?—a discussion of the pros and cons of prologues, what a prologue should accomplish. Even if you have a prologue, should you include it in your opening pages submission?
  4. Characters—what makes the reader connect with and want to spend time with your protagonist/s? Have you captured your reader from the get-go?
  5. Conflict—what conflict/s is your character going to face in your story? This should be clear in those opening pages and also go some way to establishing genre.
  6. Love interest—if you’re writing romance, how should you handle this in the opening? When do you either make it clear this is a romance or have the hero and heroine meet?
  7. Setting, time period, and world building—immerse your reader in the world of your story in your first few pages.

PART 2: Polishing the craft of writing

  1. Point-of-view, Part 1—the first question a writer must answer before writing the first word.
  2. Point-of-view, Part 2—Who is telling the story, and whose story is it?
  3. Point-of-view, Part 3—In whose skin is the reader experiencing the scene?
  4. Do you filter your fiction?—What is a filter, and why is it bad?
  5. Writing in 3-D: dialogue—Let your readers hear realistic conversations between realistic characters.
  6. Writing in 3-D: description—Let your readers see your characters and setting. 
  7. Writing in 3-D: despair—Let your readers feel what your characters feel.
  8. Internal vs. external emotion—Dig deeper into your characters’ emotions and bring the readers deeper into your characters.
  9. Final words—10 lessons I’ve learned about writing.