Why take this workshop? It’s “only” two pages. How could this possibly help my story?
Consider my personal experience. I sent my manuscript to Marisa thinking it was ready for big time publishers. Beta readers raved about the story, and Marisa agreed with my beta readers that the story is compelling. She accepted me as a client. “Whew,” I thought. “I finally made it.”
Not long thereafter, I experienced Marisa’s mastery of literature in a surprising email. She said my writing reminded her of Dan Brown’s storytelling. Then, she mentioned that he uses shorter chapters to enhance tension, but that my book carried its conflict in 22 longer chapters. Would I consider revising?
That one simple question impacted not just this story, but everything I’ve written since. My beta readers include a highly educated English teacher, two other authors, several genre-specific fans of thrillers and a molecular biologist consultant. To a person, they felt the story was excellent. Nevertheless, Marisa’s question forced me to open my eyes to a possible improvement.
I searched my chapters for logical cliffhangers and quickly expanded the book to 78 chapters without changing ANY of the story, itself. I merely fed readers the same action in smaller, faster-evolving chunks.
My beta readers were astonished at the change. The story “moved” better, tension grew--well, it became more intense. Reader’s experienced a new level of immersion into the tale. I was amazed at the improvement. The story did not change a bit; just the framework from which it is told.
Back to this workshop by my talented and perceptive agent, Marisa Corvisiero. How can a workshop about the first two pages of a story make much difference?
Maybe I should rephrase the question. How can a strong first impression impact an agent or editor’s acquisition decision?
Ah ha! That makes things more clear, but the answer--first impressions--is not as obvious as it might seem. You see, first impressions MUST be followed by quality writing. Excellent writing skills generate those two critical early pages. But, what if a great start leads to a weak story? Readers feel betrayed.
Fortunately, the same skills learned to build a strong beginning can be applied throughout the entire manuscript. After all, every story is nothing more than a series of little stories running together. Marisa can teach those valuable skills. It might be the best $80 you ever spend as an aspiring author.