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Panel to offer speed critiques of aspiring authors' first 100 words

If you’ve got a novel or short story you hope to publish, four professional authors are standing by to help. On Sunday at Charlottesville’s main library they’ll critique your first hundred words.

"A compelling start definitely helps you find a publisher or an agent. It also just helps please your reader," says Jodie Hobbs Hessler, author of short stories and a new book – Without You Here – coming out in September. She advises writers to avoid clichés.

“Light as a feather right in the first hundred words is going to throw somebody off.”

Betty Joyce Nash, author of Everybody Here Is Kin, says the panel will point out other problems in those first hundred words.

“Like somebody has used three prepositional phrases in a row, and it’s kind of convoluted. You know that’s a public service.”

But they’ll also offer encouragement.

“It is not rocket science. Writing is just writing, and writing is practice," Nash says.

And even if they don’t get to everyone, they promise a personal response to anyone who submits the start to a work of fiction. Aspiring authors have until end-of-day Wednesday to e-mail their first hundred words to WriteStart800@gmail.com

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief