CHAPTER ONE! Writing/Editing the Perfect Opening for Your Novel with Elizabeth Kostova

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The first chapter of your novel is possibly the most important!  It not only introduces your reader to your book but also guides you as a writer into the project of your own book.  In this intensive short course on first chapters, you’ll be invited to share your first chapter with me (or write one), think about what most great first chapters have in common, and try some writing experiments to generate the strongest possible opening for your particular story.

Benefit your novel and world literature at the same time!  All proceeds from this workshop go toward our scholarships for Bulgarian writers and translators.

Bulgarian authors interested in the course, please reach out to Milena Deleva at before registering for the course.

Elizabeth Kostova was born in Connecticut in 1964. She is the author of three novels, The Historian (Little, Brown, 2005), The Swan Thieves (Little, Brown, 2010), and The Shadow Land (Random House, 2017). The Historian was the first debut novel in U.S. publishing history to debut at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List, has been translated into 40 languages, and won Quill and Independent Bookseller Awards. The Swan Thieves was also a New York Times Bestseller and has been translated into 28 languages. Her short fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in such periodicals and anthologies as The Mississippi Review, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Best American Poetry, The Michigan Quarterly, and Another Chicago Magazine. Kostova has taught in programs at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the University of Michigan, Drexel University, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and Penn State– as well as at the Sozopol Seminars on the Bulgarian Black Sea and Bear River Writers’ Conference in northern Michigan. She reads and lectures internationally and is the co-founder of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, which provides competitive opportunities for Bulgarian writers and translators, as well as opportunities for native-English writers to travel to Bulgaria. She also serves on the University Council of the American University of Bulgaria in Blagoevgrad and on the Council of the University of North Carolina Press. She has received awards for service from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture and the town of Sozopol. Kostova holds a B.A. in British Studies from Yale College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won Hopwood Awards in both fiction and non-fiction.