Local Author Days - Writing the Compelling Opening

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Event Details

Local Author Day is the Santa Barbara Public Library’s annual community event that looks to support the local writing community and increase community awareness of local author contributions in Santa Barbara. The 2021 Local Author Days: First Impressions Matter will offer two workshops to take place over two weekends. These will be virtual workshops open to all community members.

Writing the Compelling Opening

 with Jervey Tervalon


The most important line of any narrative is the first and then the second.  When we write we are asking the reader to do work.  We are asking for the reader to indulge us. To respect and engage the reader you need to craft your opening so that it has sufficient impetus to launch the reader into your work. 


The Game Plan 

The First Workshop - Day 1, January 30

You will submit two sentences or the first paragraph (depending on the final size of the workshop) of your narrative work for discussion in the workshop. These will be submitted the day before the workshop and will be read aloud on the first day. Author names will not be revealed. This will allow writers to hear how their opening comes across to the folks in the workshop and engage in the discussion with feedback clearly centering on the work, not the person. Each submission will also be individually critiqued by the workshop leader.


Between Time

Participants will take time between the workshops to ingest the feedback given and work further on their narrative openings.


The Second Workshop - Day 2, February 6

 We will engage in the same format as the first and will discuss your revised openings. Rewrites will need to be submitted the day before the workshop. Again, after the session, the workshop leader will give each submission an individual critique.


Some Things to Consider:                                                         

  1. This doesn’t mean that you need to write the first sentence as though it’s about to explode. The first two sentences can be as subtle and coy as a whisper, or not.

  2. There isn’t a rule to write a narrative other than it compels you to write it.

  3. Brevity is the soul of wit. Don’t indulge yourself and go on at length when directness is called for.

  4. Have a sense of play. Taking risks in writing is the point of writing.

  5. Writing from experience even if it isn’t your personal experience is low hanging fruit.


About the Workshop Leader:

Jervey Tervalon is the author of All the Trouble You Need, Understand This, and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Dead Above Ground. An award-winning poet, screenwriter, and dramatist, Jervey was born in New Orleans, raised in Los Angeles, came of age in Santa Barbara, and got his MFA in Creative Writing from UC Irvine. Jervey is currently on faculty for UCSB's College of Creative Studies in Writing & Literature.

Event Type(s): Library Program
Age Group(s): Adults
Presenter: Jervey Tervalon
Jen Lemberger
(805) 564-5621

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