Writing Amazing Stories: Crafting the First Three Pages with Richard Dean Starr

Author, editor, and screenwriter Richard Dean Starr will lead a round-table critique workshop focused on the first three pages of your short story or novel. It is entirely your choice which form you wish to workshop during the convention.

PLEASE NOTE: Manuscripts for this track MUST follow the format illustrated by William Shunn found at the link below:


SESSION FORMAT: Prior to each day’s session, authors will distribute copies of their manuscript pages to all participants in Microsoft Word®-compatible format (Please, no text-only or RTF documents). Each author will then read that day’s designated page aloud as the group follows along silently, notating their own copies. At the conclusion of the reading, authors will remain silent as they receive feedback from the other members in “round robin” style. Authors will receive approximately 2-5 minutes of feedback from each member during a session.

Session 1: The First Page

In Session 1, each author will read the first page of their manuscript aloud as the group follows along silently, making digital notes on their own copies. During critique, we will focus on providing feedback on topics including powerful opening paragraphs, effective character development, generating suspense, and holding reader interest in the story.

Session 2: The First and Second Page Together

In Session 2, each author will read the second page of their manuscript aloud as the group follows along silently, making digital notes on their own copies. As part of this process, we will examine how well the main character development and story arc are progressing, along with the various other issues that can arise when working beyond the first page of a story or novel.

Session 3: The Third Page – Structure Check

In Session 3, each author will read the third page of their manuscript aloud as the group follows along silently, making digital notes on their own copies. In addition, we will review how well the third page integrates with the first and second pages, and determine if the author’s efforts are successful from the perspective of both readers and editors. We will also provide targeted critiques on the entire revised manuscript to date, assisting the author in polishing — and ultimately completing — a work that is suitable for publication.


Richard Dean Starr has written or edited more than 200 articles, columns, stories, books, comics, screenplays, and graphic novels since the age of seventeen. His original fiction and non-fiction has been published in Cemetery Dance, Suspense Magazine, Science Fiction Chronicle, Twilight Zone, and Starlog, among others. Licensed media tie-in characters he’s written include Hellboy, Zorro, Sherlock Holmes, The Green Hornet’s Kato, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and more. Among hiscredits are: ‘Unnaturally Normal,’ a Kolchak: The Night Stalker / Dan Shamble: Zombie P.I. team up comic, co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson; Co-editing of The Further Crossovers of Sherlock Holmes, with E.R. Bower; and co-editing, with Matthew Baugh, of the Captain Action comics line.

In addition to his fiction and non-fiction, he is also a professional script doctor and screenwriter. To date, he has contributed to twenty-one produced features, ten of them credited on IMDB. Budgets on the films he’s helped to write have ranged from $200,000 to $88 million. His most recent project was the film ‘Mississippi Murder,’ starring Malcolm McDowell, Luke Goss, and Bryan Batt. He is currently working on a horse-themed family picture that is currently in pre-production.

He is a former member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and is a current member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW). Most recently, he served as a 2020 judge for Best Ebook Original Novel, an award bestowed annually by the ITW at ThrillerFest™ in New York City.

“I’ve been teaching or moderating workshops for close to twenty-five years now and enjoy “paying-it-forward,” as other writers have done for me over the past thirty-plus years.”

His terribly out-of-date website can be found at: