Thursday, May 26, 2016

4 Red Light/Green Light Contest Schedule & Resources For Crafting A Strong Opening

As you may remember from last week, on June 23rd we will be running another round of our Red Light/Green Light contest, in which participants will be judged on their opening lines. The fabulous Kelly Peterson of Corvisiero Literary is serving as our fearless judge, and the prize she's offered is a FULL request with general editorial notes. So if you want an agent's eyes and feedback on your entire MS, this is the contest to enter!

Our full schedule for this round of Red Light/Green Light will be as follows: 

June 23rd--Contest opens!

June 30th--50 first round participants announced, first sentences posted here on the AYAP blog

July 7th--25 second round participants announced, first and second sentences posted

July 14th--10 third round participants announced, first pages posted

July 21st--5 fourth round participants announced, 3 paragraph pitches posted

July 28th--Prize winner announced, along with a few words from Kelly on why she chose that entry

As you can see, Red Light/Green Light is scheduled to conveniently end prior to Pitch Wars, so if you're thinking about entering the Big One ;) your eligibility for Pitch Wars will NOT be adversely impacted by participating in Red Light/Green Light. In fact, Red Light/Green Light might help you shine up your opening in preparation for Pitch Wars entry!

Other dates to take note of include June 9th, when we will be hosting a live chat with agent Kelly Peterson here on Twitter. It will start at 9pm EST on the contest hashtag #GreenLightWIP. If you have any questions you'd like an agent's perspective on, this is an excellent opportunity to get them answered. Note: you do NOT need to participate in Red Light/Green Light in order to participate in the live chat.

On June 16th, we'll hold another live chat with Kelly, this time on Facebook. It will also begin at 9pm EST. Let your writer friends know, and we can't wait to see your great questions!

To help you prepare for the contest start date on June 23rd, I've compiled a list of resources to help you polish up those openings. An opening is the first impression your manuscript makes on the reader, and as such it's very important to get it right. It's often the most revised part of a novel--to date, the first chapter of the novel I'm querying has been revised over 25 times! Here are some of my favorite resources for creating an opening that grips your reader from the very first sentence...the list is certainly not exhaustive, but it should give you a great place to start.

 AYAP Resources For Crafting A Strong Opening

Inspired Openings Have A Distinct Personality On The Page

Author Lucy Connors discusses how to use the five senses in creating an opening with impact.

How To Hook An Agent: 16 Agents Share What Gets Them Reading
A discussion of what publishing industry professionals find compelling in opening pages.

Jacqueline Green's Checklist For Novel Openings
A seven part checklist to evaluate if your opening will rope a reader in. According to Jacqueline, if you can hit 3 out of 7, you're well on your way!

Five Thoughts On Inspired Openings And Five Brilliant Opening Pages
Points to consider while crafting your opening, and examples of books that got it right.

The Dos And Don'ts Of Great Openings
Five things NOT to do with your opening, and one very important thing TO do.

General Resources For Crafting A Strong Opening

How To Start A Novel
Holly Lisle on things you should do before you even draft that first sentence, to lay the groundwork for a solid opening.

7 Ways To Create A Killer Opening Line
Unpacking the format of many famous opening lines: does your opening line follow one of the above formulas?

7 Keys To Write The Perfect First Line
Truth, humor, surprise, voice: all can be conveyed by a well-crafted first line.

How To Write The Perfect First Page
Delivering on the promise of your first line throughout the first page and beyond.

How To Start A Novel: First Lines, First Paragraphs
On the natural segue from a great first line to great first paragraphs, with examples from the pros.

Practical Help For Perfecting First Pages

1st 5 Pages Workshop

If you've got your opening pages as shiny as possible on your own, it always helps to have additional feedback on them. That's why we started the 1st 5 Pages Workshop here at AYAP. It runs monthly, beginning on the first Saturday of each month, and is a great opportunity for you to work together with mentors who'll help you polish your opening pages until they sparkle. Details can be found here, but be aware that the workshop fills up very quickly.

YayYA Critique Hop

Run semi-annually by Rachel Stevenson, the YayYA critique hop is a fantastic way to get feedback from multiple writers on your opening pages. Space is limited, so watch Rachel's blog for opening dates. This hop comes highly recommended by yours truly--I've met some great writing friends through the YayYA critique hop, and was even introduced to one of my invaluable critique partners through it. Numerous participants from last summer's hop have gone on to find agents--definitely check this out!

I hope you found something above to help you with your opening chapter revisions. Can't wait to see those first lines come June 23rd! If you have some favorite writing resources I didn't mention, feel free to share them in the comments below, and as always...

Happy writing!


  1. Is this Red Light/Green Light contest for YA only, or is it open to all age categories? (Thank you).

    1. Hi MB!

      Thanks for asking--currently the contest is for YA only. I'll be sure to announce if we ever host a contest that's open to other categories!

  2. Thanks for mentioning one of Now Novel's posts! Great idea for a YA-specific contest. Younger audiences in particular need to be gripped from the first line.

  3. How and where do I submit for this contest?


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