Holly Lynn Payne

Five Things I've Learned About

The Power of Page One

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View the archive of this two-hour class from novelist and host of “The Page One Podcast” Holly Payne, and discover the Five Things She’s 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.

Online Event Details

  • 120 minutes


  • Single-Class Ticket. - $60.00

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

Holly Lynn Payne

Holly Lynn Payne, MFA, MIM, is an award-winning, internationally published author of four novels, private writing coach, and podcaster. As the host and producer of the Page One Podcast, she interviews master storytellers on the critical first page of their books. Notable guests include bestselling authors Dean Koontz, Alka Joshi, Tess Gerritsen, Robert Dugoni, JT Ellison, Tom Barbash, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Kate Manning, Kristen Harnisch, Susanna Hoffs and many more. Her debut, The Virgin's Knot (Dutton), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers book. Her third novel, Kingdom of Simplicity, based on a true story of forgiveness, won a first place Benjamin Franklin Award. She earned a master’s degree from USC, BA in journalism from University of Richmond, and has served on the faculty of the California College of the Arts, Academy of Art University, San Francisco State University and Stanford.

Payne is the former CEO and founder of Booxby, a startup that built patented AI powered book discovery software, backed by a grant from the National Science Foundation. After closing Booxby in 2021, she returned to her first love: writing books and coaching writers. As an author, endurance athlete and trained intuitive healer, she offers a unique approach to the creative process. Blending her natural healing gifts with creative energy, she helps others optimize the flow state when they write. You can stay connected with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at @hollylynnpayne and sign up at www.hollylynnpayne.com for a brief monthly newsletter with updates, free offers, and the latest podcast episode from Page One.

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