Critiques of Openings


The Opening of your current story or novel—the first 300 to 1000 words or so—is what pulls the reader into the story and “sells” your story. It’s no less important than that.

Depending on your current skill level, this offer will almost certainly leap your writing forward.


  • You may submit up to three openings for different stories.
  • Please send your opening as a .doc, docx, or .rtf file via email. (Do Not send a paper manuscript.) If you send three openings, please send three files.
  • Each opening can be as long as it needs to be, say from 300 words up to 1000 words or so.
  • The opening can be for a short story, a novella, or a novel. (An opening is an opening.)
  • Any genre is fine.
  • In-progress, unpublished, or published is fine.
  • This is a learning experience.

I will read your opening and offer a thoughtful critique, usually on the same day if not within the hour. NOT OF CONTENT, but of the whole point of an opening:

  • Does it pull me into the story and make me want to read more?
  • Specifically how, or why not?

That will be the limit of the critique.

The Cost

The cost is $15 for the first opening, $10 for the second, and $5 for the third. So if you send two openings, your cost would be $25. If you send three openings, your cost would be $30.

To pay for the critique(s), you may

  • send a personal check payable to Harvey Stanbrough to PO Box 604, St. David AZ 85630-0640. If you pay by check, Do Not send a paper manuscript.
  • or you may Click This  Link and send the appropriate amount via credit card or PayPal.

The cost helps cover the time it will take me to read your opening and write your critique. As a bonus, I will also add you to the list of paid subscribers to the Journal.

Current Donors or Paid Subscribers who’ve  donated or subscribed prior to this announcement may send one opening for a critique without payment. Thank you for your support. Additional openings are $10 and $5 each.

NOTE: Believe in yourself. You know Story. You’ve been absorbing it all your life. You only need to learn how to effectively convey it to others.

If you submit an opening and I write back to say it’s good as-is and doesn’t need improvement, I’ll tell you why it works and I’ll refund your payment. I’ll also still add you to the list of paid subscribers to the Journal.

This Is a Great Deal

and an investment in your writing. It will be like auditing a masters class on how to open a story and engage the reader.

As I often say, my opinion on your opening is only one opinion. But it’s an opinion from a guy who’s written a boatload of novels, novels in series, and short fiction.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Writing Better Fiction contains everything you need to know about writing openings. If you have a copy, refer to it. Study Chapters 4, 5, and 6.

If you don’t have a copy of WBF, you can get one anywhere ebooks are sold, or you can save a buck or two by going here.

That said, right here is the only place you can get a one-on-one critique from me personally.

Any questions, please email me at