Back to Calendar

"Beginnings that Work: Hook Readers from Page One" with Michael Noll

Add to my calendar

Online Class

10/13/2016 From 06:30 PM to 09:30 PM

$49, Members Only (To become a member, click here.)

Online registration is now closed for this event.

Note: This is an online class, taken remotely. Internet access is required. If you are not able to attend the live class, you will be able to watch a recording for one week following the live event.


Anyone who’s browsed titles in a bookstore knows that readers make decisions about whether to read a book quickly—often within a page or two. And what hooks a reader? It’s easy to say that it’s sex or zombies or beautiful language, but there are entire genres of book with sex, zombies, and great prose. Something must distinguish a book from all the others. It’s the writer’s job to do just that while also doing the basic work of the story: introducing the setting, characters, and plot. In this class, students will learn to hook readers with strategies for showing

  • the type of story they’re writing,

  • what makes their story different,

  • and using those differences to create drama, plot, and suspense.

Students will be sent, in advance, excerpts from the following stories and novels:

  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, winner of a Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Faithful Place by Tana French, the third novel in the international bestselling Dublin Murder Squad series

  • “The Summer People” from Kelly Link’s book Get in Trouble, finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize

  • Zombie stories by Roxane Gay and Manuel Gonzales and Alden Bell’s zombie novel The Reapers are the Angels

This class will benefit writers from all genres of fiction, whether they’re trying to tighten up their opening pages or figure out what sort of story they’re writing. Many of the strategies will also apply to memoir.


About the instructor:

Michael Noll is the Program Director for the Writers’ League of Texas and editor of the craft-of-writing blog Read to Write Stories. His book, Writer's Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction, will be published by A Strange Object in 2017. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in American Short Fiction, Chattahoochee Review, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Indiana Review, and The New Territory. His story, “The Tank Yard,” will be included in The Best American Mystery Stories 2016.


How to take an online class:

Step One: Register here.
Step Two: We'll send you login instructions and reading assignment before the class date.
Step Three: Login a few minutes prior to the start of class.
Step Four: Participate in class from the comfort of your own home: 2 hours of instruction and 1 hour of Q&A.
Step Five: If you need to leave the class early, no problem because... 
Step Six: You will be able to watch the recording of the class as many times as you want for one week.

What you will need:

An internet connection capable of streaming video

Speakers (for hearing the instructor)


REGISTRATION BY MAIL: If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click HERE for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

NOTE: Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster. For policies, please visit our Classes page.

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to