Back to Calendar

"Jump Start Your Novel" with Sara Kocek

Add to my calendar

ACC Highland Campus, rm 2105
6101 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX 78752

10/22/2016 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

$49 for members (log in for member pricing)

$109 for nonmembers

Online registration is now closed for this event.

If you wish to attend, there are still a few seats available for purchase at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early and pay with exact cash or check (made out to Writers' League of Texas). The walk-up rate is $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.


Now more than ever, a strong opening is vital for a novel’s success. A manuscript has mere seconds in an agent’s hands, and in order to stand out from the hundreds of other submissions, the opening pages need to be polished and diamond-sharp. This class will cover tips and tricks for crafting a compelling opening chapter, including common pitfalls to avoid. Students  will have the chance to workshop the first page of your draft and receive concrete, constructive feedback from the instructor and the rest of the group.

If you have an idea for a novel floating around in your head, but you don’t know where to start, this class is for you, too. Class discussion will tackle developing an idea and setting fleshing out characters, with writing exercises. From plotting your outline to polishing an opening page, the class will cover everything a writer needs to kick-start a manuscript with compelling tension and a vivid, distinct, voice.

This class will cover:

  • The six elements of a strong beginning
  • How NOT to open a first chapter
  • How to create a flexible outline that grows with a novel
  • How to set—and raise—the stakes of a novel
  • Simple methods for organizing a work in progress

Who should attend:

  • Writers who are just beginning the process of working on a novel
  • Writers who are knee-deep in the process and want to hone their opening pages
  • Anyone who has an idea for a novel, but doesn’t know where to start


About the instructor:

Sara Kocek is the author of Promise Me Something (Albert Whitman, 2013) and the founder of Yellow Bird Editors, an Austin-based collective of independent editors and writing coaches. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates and worked as a full-time editorial intern at Random House and Penguin. Prior to pursuing her MFA, Sara graduated with a B.A. in English from Yale University, where she worked as Writing Fellow, tutoring undergraduate and graduate students in academic and creative writing.

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

The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank Austin Community College for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit