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The Promise of First Pages (in-person class) – Registration is closed.

January 23 @ 9:30 am - 12:30 pm EST

Event Series Event Series (See All)

Instructor: BettyJoyce Nash
$120 Members | $132 Nonmembers
Tuesdays, 1/16/24 – 2/6/24 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

By registering for an in-person offering, you attest that you have been vaccinated for Covid-19. WriterHouse strongly recommends any student at greater risk for contracting Covid-19 wear a mask. In the event of significant Covid-19 upticks, students must be prepared for the mask policy to change and to transition to a virtual platform if necessary. No refunds will be issued if in-person classes/seminars need to transition online.

How do fiction writers convey meaning? What is meaning?

We read fiction less for “what happens” or “who did what” than for what the work means—that includes asides, thoughts, texture, understory, and character development. Bring the first five pages of a draft. Finished—or not.  You may know, or think you know, where it’s going—or not. The draft will be emotionally “hot.” We, as colleagues, will parse phrases, sentences, and paragraphs in those first pages in order to “see” how readers, writerly readers, are perceiving the work. What does the language in these first pages actually say (and reveal by other means) about actions, feelings, implications, and understory?

Layers usually evolve/reveal themselves in later drafts, for me, and probably for you, too. The first few pages will change, maybe dramatically, draft to draft. The first may be last or vice-versa, but this exercise can show us what readers “see” in the text and what they expect from the work based on these first pages. We need to know what’s seeping through our language, character behavior, diction, and action so we can subvert reader expectations and deepen meaning.

BettyJoyce Nash writes fiction and journalism. Her novel, Everybody Here is Kin, debuted September 2023. Her story, “The Forever Project,” appears in Reckon Review; other essays and stories have aired on NPR, appeared in The Christian Science MonitorNorth Dakota Quarterly, Broad River Review, Across the Margin, and elsewhere. She writes editorials for Carolina Commentary.

A MacDowell fellow in 2013, BettyJoyce won the Fitzgerald prize in 2015. She earned an MSJ from Medill Journalism (Northwestern), and an MFA in fiction, from Queens University of Charlotte. Her fiction has been recognized with fellowships from Ragdale, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and VCCA-France. She teaches fiction at WriterHouse in Charlottesville; she’s also taught writing at the University of Richmond and the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

Registration is closed.



January 23
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
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BettyJoyce Nash


508 Dale Avenue
Charlottesville, 22902 United States
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