View the archive of my live, two-hour class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned about a book’s critical first page – and about how you can ensure your opening paragraphs do all they can to hook readers and keep them reading.

Hi, I’m Holly Payne. 

I’ve been an award-winning novelist, a professor, and a private writing coach for more than two decades. I’m also the host and producer of the Page One Podcast, where I talk with master storytellers about the craft of the first page of their book. I’ve talked at length with great and inspiring writers including Jasmin Darznik, Tom Barbash, Daniel Handler, Alka Joshi, and Dean Koontz about the power and craft of their opening page. Why? Because master storytellers share a secret: Their first page is often the most rewritten; it has to work so hard to do so much.

The first page is where writers have their first chance to make a good impression. It’s also their first chance—and hopefully not their last—to hook readers and keep them engaged. As part of my obsession with a book’s first page, I’ve discovered that when well crafted, the first page contains the same elements in every genre, including fiction and non-fiction. Mastering these elements is possible for anyone who wants to engage their readers. And while the first page will inevitably be the most rewritten page of any book, getting it “right” doesn’t have to be agonizing—in fact it can be one of the most ecstatic moments in the process.

How you can approach your first page is exactly what I want to share with you in this live, two-hour class. We’ll look at the five things I’ve learned about how master storytellers work their magic, right from the start.

To begin, I’ll try to demystify ‘page one’ by sharing the five key principals I’ve learned every writer can apply right away to hook their readers. We’ll look closely at a few great first pages together to see what works and how each writer sets the ground for success in their opening paragraphs. 

We’ll also spend a good amount of time workshopping three page-ones that I’ll select from workshop participants. I’ll offer positive and valuable feedback in what I promise will be a safe, celebratory, and exploratory space.

Of course, I look forward to your questions to learning what you’re working on, and to offering additional insights to support your revision process. My hope is that when our time together concludes your book will be better positioned than ever to succeed – both in hooking an agent and editor and, most importantly, in ways that will engage and grow future readership.

Whether you’re working on your first draft, or honing your fifteenth, I hope you’ll join me for this lively, inspiring discussion about how a certain combination of just 26 letters can satisfy eager readers. 

Writing is an endurance sport. Let’s start with page one!

-Holly Payne