Perfect Pacing for Fiction Writers: Nailing Act One

Write fiction that moves! Learn to pace Act One of your novel or narrative nonfiction so readers demand more.
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  • Lectures 13
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 9/2015 English

Course Description

Course Description

Do you wonder how your favorite novelists create openings that grab you, pull you in, and make you need to read to the next page? In this course, you'll learn how to pace your first chapters with flowing, dynamic prose. Whether you're looking to self-publish or are searching for an agent, editor, or publisher, you'll discover the techniques to build a strong story opening.

Contents and Overview

This course contains thirteen lectures and approximately fifty minutes of video content. In addition, it contains worksheets with practical exercises that you'll apply to your own work.

For those vital opening chapters, I'll teach you what I've learned as an editor. My experiences editing for a New York Times bestselling publisher, and now for independent authors, have shown me the mistakes so many authors make in those first pages. We'll cover three major areas that trip many writers up:

  • Introducing characters for the first time
  • Confusion between world building and world introduction
  • Presenting your story's initial conflict

Each of these areas will be broken down into the following lessons:

  • The most common problems writers make
  • A case study of an author who's done it well
  • Worksheets with exercises to apply to your own story

Whether you have a completed draft that you need to polish, or you're writing down your story for the first time, these techniques will help you create a story with pacing that pulls the reader to the next page.

What are the requirements?

  • Computer with word processing program, pen and paper, or fiction creation tool of writer's choice.
  • The first few chapters of your novel or narrative nonfiction work, ready for revision; OR
  • A story idea you're ready to write

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Draw readers in from Chapter One with dynamic pacing.
  • Introduce your characters, world, and conflict with flair.
  • Create prose that makes your reader need to move on to the next chapter.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is for writers of fiction and narrative nonfiction who want to create a strong first act to their novel or memoir.
  • This course is NOT designed for technical writing, such as manuals, copy, or other nonfiction business writing.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Welcome, and Introduction

Learn about your instructor's background, and why she's teaching this course.


How to take advantage of this course, whether you're starting from a completed draft or a blank page.


Here I'll cover my overarching philosophy of story pacing. You'll receive some excellent resources for reference and further learning as well. Keep these ideas in mind as you work through each section.

Section 2: Character Introduction

Learn the most common mistake writers make when they introduce characters to the story, and why it stops your reader.


Follow an example of excellent character introduction step-by-step, and analyze why it works. Source material: Storm Front by Jim Butcher.

1 page

Use the worksheet to revisit your story and, based on what we've learned, craft dynamic character intros.

Section 3: Introducing Your World

Learn the most common problem new writers face when introducing their world, and why it stops the reader.


Continuing with Jim's Butcher's Storm Front, see an excellent example of pacing the introduction to your fiction/narrative nonfiction world.

1 page

Use the worksheet to revisit your story and, based on what we've learned, pace your world intro so it hooks the reader.

Section 4: Establishing Conflict

Learn the most common issue with pacing your story's initial conflict.


In our last look at Storm Front, see how Jim Butcher starts off strong by establishing conflict right off the bat.

2 pages

Use the worksheet to establish strong initial conflict in your story.

Section 5: In Conclusion
2 pages

Now that you have a first act that moves, I'll talk about where to go from here.

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Instructor Biography

Faith Van Horne, Editor, Writing Instructor

Faith Van Horne spent three years as an editor for Ellora's Cave, a New York Times bestselling epublisher. Since then, she's worked as a freelance editor, working one-on-one with authors to help them hone their craft. She edits for writers who choose to self-publish, as well as those seeking traditional publication. She's also had a novel and a novella published, as well as numerous short stories. Her own collection of short stories, Super Sargasso, is now available.

She found that she wanted to reach more writers, so she began teaching workshops. Teaching online is an extension of those in-person lectures.

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