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Those Killer First Chapters

On Saturday 6th February I ventured to London to attend a workshop being held by Paul McVeigh, all about “Those Killer First Chapters” and how to make your novel attractive to agents right from the very outset of your story.

I had been to Paul’s “Killer First Page” workshop last October in Bath, so I knew that he was a man well versed in getting work noticed. Paul himself is the author of “Not the Booker Prize” shortlisted The Good Son, a coming of age tale set in The Troubles in the 80s. This has been chosen as Brighton’s City Reads this year (March through May) to celebrate the Brighton Festival’s 50th Anniversary. His short stories have been published in journals and anthologies and have been read on the radio. Paul himself has read at conferences throughout Europe.

It was a privilege, therefore, to be privy to the workings of his mind for a day! Paul is a charming, funny man but with a real serious passion for the art of storytelling. Through years of attending workshops and cold, hard experience, he has garnered tips and tricks and fantastic advice for making a story tight, effective and compelling. This applies to both short stories and novels.

The workshop in London – held at Waterstones Piccadilly, which is the home of The Word Factory – was a full day during which I took many notes. It was wonderful to meet with like-minded writers who are undergoing the same struggles as me in their own journeys to be published.

We were also treated to an audience with Paul’s agent Carrie Kania of Conville and Walsh Literary Agency. She spoke about the role of the agent in a writer’s career, gave us insight into her typical working days (which are extremely busy) and answered any questions we might have. She also gave us invaluable tips on how to approach an agent; what to put in the cover letter, what to include in the submission, etc etc.

When I got home I was feeling very inspired and full of ideas – something that Paul elicits with his classes. The following day I was at my desk and re-wrote the start of my novel using my notes and am feeling much more confident about my project in general. I can’t wait to put all his advice into practice. If you get a chance to go to one of his worshops, I would highly recommend you do so.

You can keep an eye on Paul, his writing and his upcoming workshops at, and also keep up to date with all the writing competitions and open submission opportunities at

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