Write Great Openings!

Enroll now.

In any genre, any style…

the writer’s first objective is to capture the reader’s attention. Will it be:

  • an action-adventure explosion?
  • a rom-com heart-warming introduction to the lovers?
  • a literary contemplative, subtly tense drawing of character?

No matter what kind of story you’re writing, you only get one chance to make a first impression on your reader. It has to go beyond good, way beyond, to turn that impression into commitment.

Because that’s what we’re asking of our readers. To commit their time and attention to our stories. To devote their hearts to our characters. To invest their excitement to the push, pull, and every twist of our plots. Readers know it’s a big ask. That’s why we have to put the goods on the table on page one, starting with the first sentence.

Are you ready to blow your readers away with a truly great opening?




This 6-week live workshop will be held on Tuesdays, March 2 - April 6, 2021 from 2:00 - 4:00 Central

(3:00 Eastern, 1:00 Mountain, Noon Pacific)

Space is limited to ensure everyone can participate actively in the workshops. (If you find this workshop closed, please email me. If there's enough interest, I may be able to open a second session.)

This course is for novelists of any genre or style.

  • Bring a draft of Act I of a work-in-progress (this can be first draft rough). It is ideal (but not critical) to have a storyboard or outline of the rest of your novel.
  • Write a variety of exercises to open up exciting, new possibilities for your Act I.
  • Get feedback throughout the session.
  • Read assigned writings across genres to see the many shapes Act I can take.
  • Expect to spend 4-7 hours per week on this course, including the 2-hour weekly live calls.

This workshop size will be limited so everyone has the time and opportunity to participate fully.

Do you have questions not answered here? Email Alida. [email protected]




All participants in this workshop have the option* to submit 10 pages of writing (~ 2,500 words) to Alida for insightful, detailed, written feedback from the sentence to global level, after the course. It does not need to be the same work you bring to the class workshop. Get feedback on something different or a rewrite of the workshopped piece - writer's choice!

You'll be surprised how much you can learn in 10 pages!

*add on purchase, feedback to be arranged and completed at the end of course.

Your Instructor

Alida Winternheimer
Alida Winternheimer

Alida Winternheimer is an award-winning author and experienced teacher, editor, and writing coach. She’s published numerous short stories, two of which were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Alida is the creator and host of two literary podcasts: Story Works Round Table, conversations about craft; and Story Works Reading Series, a literary journal for your ears. She is the author of the Story Works Guide to Writing Character and the Story Works Guide to Writing Point of View.

Every day, Alida helps writers write better through her craft books, the Story Works Fiction online school, free writing tips, and her podcasts. When she's not writing or teaching, you can spot her around Minneapolis on her bike, in her kayak, or being walked by her golden retriever.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts on Tuesday February 2 and ends on March 9, 2021. It is held over Zoom from 4 - 6:00 Central. Use a time zone converter to find your local time.
How long do I have access to the course?
For the duration of the course. Treat it as you would a physical classroom experience. You will receive handouts to keep forever. Wisdom never fades.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
I would never want you to be unhappy! Once the course begins, partial or full refunds will be considered on a case-by-case basis and issued at the discretion of the instructor. Please discuss any concerns with Alida before asking for a refund. It is the student's responsibility to attend live workshops. Refunds will not be issued for poor attendance, except in extreme circumstances.

Need a scholarship?

Limited pay-what-you-can seats are available in the Story Works Fiction School. Contact Alida to see if one is currently available for this workshop. [email protected]

Get started now!