Fiction Masterclass: Turn to Page One (virtual) with Jessica Scott-Kerrin

What’s a good opening sentence? Simple. It compels the reader to read the next sentence. And so on. By launching the reader in the right direction, a compelling first sentence is even more critical when sending out manuscripts to agents and editors who often ask to see only the first few pages before rendering a decision. In this masterclass, we’ll explore various opening techniques that are available to authors as well as identify common errors to tackle. An evaluation “first page” template will be shared and further developed during the sessions.

Participants are expected to have completed the first draft of a manuscript, have a good grasp of their theme, and now be ready to receive critical commentary and helpful peer-guided feedback for revising their first page. Participants are also expected to submit their first page before the workshop begins and commit to reading other participants’ drafts between workshop sessions.

About the instructor: Halifax-based Jessica Scott Kerrin is the best-selling author of 16 works of fiction (middle readers, chapter books, and a picture book). Her latest novel, Clear Skies, takes place during the 1960s Space Race to the Moon. Jessica has mentored many writers, she’s toured hundreds of schools and libraries across Canada and the United States, she teaches writing workshops for teens and adults, and her books have been translated into six languages. In addition to writing, Jessica has managed galleries, dance schools, and museums and worked with artists, performers, and curators, all of whom have inspired Jessica’s stories. Other sources of inspiration include her boy, her bird dog, and her boat, aptly named Cape Fear.

Recommended experience level: Established writers and professional authors, regardless of genre of expertise (About recommended experience levels)

Participant cap: 12

Location: Zoom

Dates of 4-week workshop: Wednesdays, Mar 13 + Mar 20 + Mar 27 + Apr 3, 2024 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Registration for 2024 General Members: $169

Registration for non-members: $234 (includes 2024 General Membership in WFNS)

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those with no professional publications (yet!) or a few short professional publications (i.e., poems, stories, or essays in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with numerous professional publications and/or one book-length publication.
  • Established writers/authors: those with two book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short publications.
  • Professional authors: those with more than two book-length publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for participant-to-participant feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at