Amazing First Lines: How to Write Openings that Grab Readers' Attention and Don't Let Go

Amazing First Lines: How to Write Openings that Grab Readers' Attention and Don't Let Go

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  • You are a writer who is currently composing a nove
  • You are a writer who has finished a novel and wish to enrich your opening lines
  • You are a writer who is ready to add that extra level of depth that may mean the difference between selling your project and resigning it to the drawer


Using examples from young adult fiction, literature, pop culture, film, and television, this presentation explores the craft of startling, intriguing, and unforgettable openings. Discover how to capture and hold a reader's, or agent's or editor's, attention, interest, and excitement from word one! This is a must for anyone looking to write and sell a breakout novel.

In this presentation, instructor John Cusick uses his unique expertise as both an agent and author, to explore the power of opening lines to establish a relationship with the reader, create a strong first impression, and even encapsulate the whole of a story and theme in a single sentence or paragraph. In this difficult and competitive market, an arresting opening line can mean the difference between a book deal and a slush pile. Learn to stand out with John's artistic and industry know-how.

Runtime: 78 minutes


  • How to grab attention with shock, intrigue, and the rule of ‚Äúalways‚Ķexcept!"
  • How to involve the reader in your world, your characters, your point of view
  • How to leave your reader begging for more, using mystery, suspense, and humor
  • How to establish a ‚Äúworking relationship" with your reader, creating a ‚Äúrule book" for your novel
  • How to encapsulate the whole of your story and theme in a single sentence or paragraph
  • How to unearth amazing opening lines in everyday conversation


John M. Cusick has been on both sides of the business, as a literary agent for young adult and middle grade fiction at Greenhouse Literary, and as a young adult author. His debut novel Girl Parts was published by Candlewick Press in 2010, and his much-anticipated follow-up, Cherry Money Baby, drops September, 2013. John has lectured for the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the Texas Writer's League, and for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers in Utah. His pieces on writing for teens have appeared in Writer's Market, The New Inquiry, and on multiple online resources for writers. John is also a founder and managing editor of 2012 Saboteur Award-winning literary magazine, Armchair/Shotgun.

NOTE: Writer's Digest does not offer refunds for OnDemand Webinars. All sales are final. OnDemand Webinars do NOT include a critique.

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