One Day Seminar: Crafting Compelling Openings

make me care: crafting compelling openings

::Fall 2017::

Date: Saturday, september 23
Time: 1 – 4 pm
Location: Los angeles, location tba

First impressions matter. How many pages do you give a book before deciding whether to invest in the whole thing? Ten? Five? Two?

People are busy, agents and editors are busier, so the opening of your book must grab the reader by the throat from line one. Readers are looking for a reason to put your story down on each page. The trick is to refuse them that chance by never loosening your grip. This is most vital in the first few pages.

Your job is to create a first paragraph, then a first few pages, that do more than simply capture the reader’s attention. A great opening will seize the hearts and minds of the reader, stir up the anticipation of what happens next??, and make them curious and concerned enough to want to follow the journey of your story. Without a strong beginning, the rest of the book doesn’t stand a chance.

This one-day seminar is designed for writers with works-in-progress who are looking to hone and polish their beginnings to an irresistible shine. The first topic we’ll address is: have you started in the right place? Through focused writing exercises and small group feedback, we will help you determine the best point of entry to your story, then we’ll work on how to make that opening layered with meaning and as compelling as possible.

There is no one right way to do this, and we will examine and analyze techniques used by published authors to create gut-punch starts and discuss how to apply some of those tools to your own first few pages. You will leave with a renewed sense of purpose in approaching your book’s start as well as concrete ideas for how to amplify the reader’s connection to your story in a short space.

This seminar will focus on fiction, but is open to all genres at all levels. Please be prepared to bring the first five pages of your work-in-progress.

There will be snacks.

Cost: $90

Payments can be made by check or Paypal. A $25 deposit will hold your spot, and the balance is due September 1st.

For an additional $25, I will provide detailed written feedback on your revised first five pages, which you have up to three months after the seminar to send in.


Melanie is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to take her next class!

Melanie has invigorated each story I have brought to her, but more than that she has molded my writing practice so that my work keeps getting better when she’s not around…She is also just a remarkably smart, genuine, and witty person. Being around her is always a good time and then almost without realizing it you’ve taken your work to the next level by the time you say goodbye.

I have an MFA in writing and have been doing writers’ groups and workshops for years. Melanie is, hands down, one of the smartest and most insightful instructors I’ve ever had… Anyone would be lucky to have the chance to work with her.

Melanie is the perfect blend of critical and encouraging.

In addition to Melanie’s notes and comments being incredibly helpful, I really appreciated her workshop. I’ve found other classes and writing groups much less useful, and I think Melanie is very skilled at leading and guiding these discussions. This was the first time I’ve walked away from a workshop feeling like I had real concrete ideas about how to improve and move forward.

(Read more testimonials here.)

For questions or to register:

Email me at, or fill out the form below. I look forward to hearing from you!