Amazing First Lines: How to Write Great Openings — Aug 15 Webinar With Critique by Agent John Cusick

Using examples from young adult fiction, literature, pop culture, film, and television, this 1-hour presentation will explore the craft of startling, intriguing, and unforgettable openings. Discover how to capture and hold a reader’s— or agent’s or editor’s— attention, interest, and excitement from word one.

In this live webinar, “Amazing First Lines: How to Write Great Openings,” instructor John Cusick (Greenhouse Literary) uses his unique expertise as both an agent and author to explore the power of opening lines to establish a relationship with the reader, create a strong first impression, and even encapsulate the whole of a story and theme in a single sentence or paragraph. The whole thing happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. Don’t forget that agent-instructors Louise Fury, Barbara Poelle and Kathleen Ortiz have all signed clients after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar.


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You are invited to submit a query letter for critique. All submitted query letters are guaranteed a written critique by John Cusick within 60 days of receipt. John reserves the right to request manuscripts or sample chapters from attendees by e-mail following the event.

Please Note: Even if you can’t attend the live webinar, registering for this live version will enable you to receive the On Demand webinar and a personal critique of your material. Purchasing the On Demand version after the live event will not include a critique. Sign up for the webinar here.


  • How to grab attention with shock, intrigue, and the rule of “always…except!”
  • How to involve the reader in your world, your characters, your point of view
  • How to leave your reader begging for more, using mystery, suspense, and humor
  • How to establish a “working relationship” with your reader, creating a “rule book” for your novel
  • How to encapsulate the whole of your story and theme in a single sentence or paragraph
  • How to unearth amazing opening lines in everyday conversation


John M. Cusick has been on both sides of the business, as a literary agent for young adult and middle grade fiction at Greenhouse Literary, and as a young adult author. His debut novel Girl Parts was published by Candlewick Press in 2010, and his much-anticipated follow-up, Cherry Money Baby, drops September, 2013. John has lectured for the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Texas Writer’s League, and for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers in Utah. His pieces on writing for teens have appeared in Writer’s Market, The New Inquiry, and on multiple online resources for writers. John is also a founder and managing editor of 2012 Saboteur Award-winning literary magazine, Armchair/Shotgun.

Sign up for the webinar here!

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