The First 50 Pages with Eric Obenauf

Learn to power hook reader interest, create friction between characters, stack the decks, and up the stakes, keeping the editor or beta reader committed to what happens next as you Master the First 50 Pages of your Manuscript.

Your Instructor: Eric Obenauf (Publisher and Editor at Two Dollar Radio)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 Student Capacity

Price: $397

Class Description

Many agents or editors will offer a decision on a submission by reading the initial fifty pages of a manuscript, and oftentimes even less. It’s up to you to construct a powerful and engaging opening that compels the gatekeepers to want to continue reading the remaining pages. The First 50 Pages course will focus on crafting a taut opening to your manuscript, with particular emphasis on dramatic tension and pacing. Students should come with a manuscript-in-progress (or at least the first 10 pages to start). Weekly course-work will include reading and/or viewing assignments, manuscript revision, and shorter writing assignments that will emphasize that particular week’s component.

What This Class Covers

1. At First Glance.

Students will begin by submitting a query letter along with the first 10 pages (or less) of a manuscript. We’ll discuss queries and transferring voice from the manuscript to the query. Students will constructively critique one another’s initial pages, and be asked to read the opening to one or more books that are especially effective.

2. Stacking the Decks.

Nobody roots for a character that has it easy. Hollywood is especially transparent in their formula for stacking the deck against a film’s protagonist. Students will be asked to view one (or more) movies that provide filmic examples where the protagonist burrows deeper into a hole before being asked to claw their way out. Course work will include manuscript revision with a focus on pushing characters against the wall in the early pages. Students will write outlines and share them with the class that chart protagonist evolution throughout the entire story and what spurs character reversals.

3. Friction.

Drama propels readers from one page to the next, but where does it come from? We’ll discuss characters’ conflicting desires and how to inject constant friction to the plot. Students will be asked to share individual scenes from their manuscript and offer one another constructive criticism specific to developing tension.

4. The First 50.

The fourth and final week of the course will begin with students submitting a polished first 40-to-50 pages of their manuscript, along with a query letter, and will conclude with detailed, personalized feedback from the instructor.

Goals Of This Class

  • Understand the value of a compelling opening.
  • Explore how adversity drives character development.
  • Learn how to develop constant friction for your characters that propels readers (and you, the writer) forward.
  • Craft a complete and well-polished first fifty pages of your manuscript.
  • Generate a solid one-page query leader which leads and captures the style and spirit of your manuscript.
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