A sharp hook: starting a novel with teeth

A sharp hook: a workshop-based writing count on novel outlining for fiction authors

Next offering: July 6 to August 28

Team up with other fiction writers to strengthen and polish your manuscript's first 4000 words. All drafts welcome.

Course summary

The curriculum for this course is styled after an MFA workshop, but is open to new and veteran writers. Participants will refine their manuscript's opening hook in stages over eight weeks, with ongoing support from the instructor as well as other workshop members. Short story and craft discussions will inform the process, and there will also be a weekly writing prompt to help you fine-tune your prose and voice.

  • Weeks 1 & 2: Why today? Setting your story's trajectory
  • Weeks 3 & 4: Establishing character and conflict
  • Weeks 5 & 6: POV, backstory, and setup
  • Weeks 7 & 8: Voice, dialogue, and reader immersion

Participant expectations

To get the most out of this workshop, we require a commitment from each participant.  Everyone enrolled is expected to engage in discussions; your workshop group will rely on you for comments, suggestions, and encouragement. Workload requirements:

  • Submit your manuscript's opening pages (~4000 words)
  • Revise your opening with feedback from your cohort
  • Re-submit your revision for secondary analysis
  • Read bi-weekly submissions and give feedback to 3-6 group members
  • Read bi-weekly resource articles and short stories
  • Apply insights from resources and story discussions to your workshops
  • Participate in ongoing discussions

To achieve all of this, aim to set aside 8 hours per week.

Your instructor

David Griffin Brown – Darling Axe senior editor and author of Sky to Sea and the Sparrow War

David Griffin Brown is an award-winning short-fiction writer and Darling Axe senior editor. He has 20 years' editing experience, and has also spent 15 years working as a staff trainer, English teacher, and writing instructor. David completed his MFA in creative writing through the University of British Columbia, and he also holds an undergraduate degree in anthropology through the University of Victoria.  David's two debut novels, Sky to Sea and The Sparrow War, are both represented by the Donaghy Literary Group.


Limited workshop space

We keep our classes small to ensure that each participant has ample feedback from the instructor, and also to keep discussions focused.  Reserve your spot before the workshop fills up!

Reserve your spot today!