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"Writing That Draws Readers, Editors & Agents In Immediately!"

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In medias res, hook in line one, the first page is contract for the reader, we’ve all heard a lot of advice about how to create an opening in a text that draws readers in and captures their interest enough to make them have to finish the whole piece. The question is what alchemy of voice, plot, character, and setting creates this kind of literary hook? How is that formula for success affected by genre distinctions like fantasy vs. science fiction or picture book vs. novel? The answer to all these questions and more will be explored in this webinar by the managing editor of Eerdmans, Kathleen Merz and creative writing professor and established author, A. LaFaye. Ms.Merz has brought a host of stupendous books into the hands of eager young readers and Prof. LaFaye has written a baker’s dozen of well-respected books and coached many writers who have gone on to publish award winning books in a variety of genres.

In this webinar, writers of picture books, fiction, and non-fiction for young readers will learn valuable skills and genre-specific tricks of the trade for creating literary openings that hook readers and keep them turning pages whether it’s an agent, an editor, or a young reader. They’ll learn elements of plotting, character, setting, and voice that will be helpful in writing the best literary openings possible. These skills can transfer to other parts of the manuscript as well. We’ll be exploring some of the best literary openings in a variety of genres and taking them apart to see what makes them tick, then offering insights into how to apply those techniques.

You will learn about craft and the author-editor experience:

  • How to open a piece of writing that hooks readers and keeps them reading to the very end
  • How to weave character, plot, and setting into the opening in a way that compels readers to keep reading
  • Ways to develop a writer-specific style that makes your writing stand out in a crowded market
  • Methods for “negotiating” a literary contract with readers that will not only have them reading to the end, but waiting for your next book to come out
  • Genre specific expectations for literary openings, including content genres (Sci-Fi, Historical, etc) and form genres (Fiction, Non-Fiction, and so on)

Who will benefit, who should attend?

  • Writers looking to create a distinctive voice that stands out in a crowded market
  • Writers who want to readers to be hooked from their first word to their last
  • Writers open to learning more about how genre expectations be met and thwarted on the first page
  • Writers who want to challenge themselves
  • Writers who are eager to learn the ins and outs of the craft of writing
  • Writers who want to learn to read as a writer

About the Editor & Author:

Kathleen Merz is the Managing Editor at Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. She has worked on a number of award-winning titles, including books that have won the Caldecott Honor, the Batchelder Award for translation, the Sibert Medal, and other honors. She studied English and linguistics, and especially enjoys working on translated books and nonfiction picture books. She lives in Michigan, and can also be found occasionally blogging at

I’m always on the lookout for new original picture books, narrative nonfiction, and middle grade stories—particularly books with a historical focus, books that tackle contemporary social issues, and books that celebrate diversity or multiculturalism. I’m drawn to well-crafted voice and strong characters.

A. LaFaye is an author, professor, and honored mentor to many writers who have gone on to not only publish the work they started in her courses, but to earn national awards and nominations. An enthusiastic supporter of diversity, Alexandria seeks to help writers of all backgrounds to bring their voice to young readers who need to hear the multiplicity of stories that reflect the world we live in today. Quirky, funny, and spontaneous, Alexandria will get your creative juices flowing, teach you how to read, write, and think like a writer, and inspire to become the best you can be at the style of writing you want to bring to world. You can catch up with A. LaFaye at, @artlafaye,

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"Writing That Draws Readers, Editors & Agents In Immediately!"

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