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Writer's Room => Chapter Books, Easy Readers, and Middle Grade (MG) => Topic started by: jodi-cardillo on November 13, 2017, 07:34 AM

Title: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: jodi-cardillo on November 13, 2017, 07:34 AM
 :yay

Hello MG writers!

The first pages of an ms are SOOOOO important.

From your expertise, what MUST be included in these few pages, to grab the attention of an agent/publisher??

For example, one agent at a conference in Toronto mentioned if there wasn't action on the first page, she wouldn't read it.  That is just her opinion, as there are fantastic MG's out there that don't feature this.

However, I wouldn't want to miss anything either.

If you have any suggestions or resources to share (ie: websites/books) that are current and applicable, I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks!!


Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: Vijaya on November 13, 2017, 08:01 AM
I'm not sure about the no action rule but what compels me most is an interesting character, voice, and a story question. Something that nags at me to know more.

You might want to take a look at Ray Rhamney's Flogging the Quill over on Writer Unboxed or his website. Both pop up when I do a Google search.
Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: David Wright on November 13, 2017, 08:30 AM
The letter 'e'

Without that the author is just weird :lol:

As http://jessicaknauss.blogspot.ca/2014/05/literary-idol-dos-and-donts-of-first.html says

...on your first page, you must not disorient or confuse the reader; over-explain; foreshadow; have typos or unclear pronouns; use the wrong words <e.g. adult phrasing or metaphors> ; or bore the reader.

Conversely, on your first page, you must have a unique voice and perspective; a strong hook; vivid imagery; powerful, evocative language; clear stakes; freshness in abundance; and if possible, a variety of syntax. All of this is just to draw the reader in and make the reader care what happens next. Not much to ask from about 200 words.


Think about where you start, from both a plot place and scene.
Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: mrh on November 13, 2017, 11:19 AM
Hook.
Voice.
Tension (a different thing from action).
The main character's weakness and need.
Complete clarity -- nothing confusing.
Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: June Smalls on November 13, 2017, 01:38 PM
You need to set the scene, but not in neon lights (unless, you know, they are actually part of the scene).
Where and when.  I don't need a year, but computers vs. castles.
You need to give us a feeling of your character. Not a full biography but gender, age, and if I'm going to like them as a person (or animal, or mythical beast - you get the drift.) You can look up the "Save the Cat" technique where your MC does something good that shows us they are the good MC we want to follow.
Action doesn't necessarily mean things are blowing up, but DON'T have them wake up, yawn, check their reflection, explain in detail said reflection, contemplate all that is happening in their lives, but the only action (if it were a movie) is getting out of bed and staring.
Action can be a bad report card that you have to show the parents, or preparing to move to a new town, or skydiving. It just has to be a scene that grabs you and makes you want to turn the page.

Hope this helps, and remember, this is just my two cents so ignore whatever doesn't work for your style/MS.
Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on November 13, 2017, 06:38 PM
Most of the tips above don't just apply to the first page. These things have to continue for the whole manuscript.

The first page is a promise to the reader about what the book will be. It sets tone as well as character and action. It makes the reader care, even if only about what will happen next. It presents the book's raison d'etre, reason for being. The last page fulfills the promise, so your first page can't be exactly right until your last page is complete.
Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: Melody on November 14, 2017, 10:08 AM
If you are asking about the first few pages, we need to know:

Who the main character is
How old they are
What the problem of the story will be, or at least a hint of that, because that may not be clear until the end of the first chapter
Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: jodi-cardillo on November 14, 2017, 12:43 PM
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!  You all are such an amazing resource!  I really appreciate your time to send me your websites and your thoughts!! That is why these blue boards rock!
Title: Re: First pages and what SHOULD BE THERE!
Post by: hairaplenty on November 18, 2017, 05:39 PM
http://www.cherylklein.com/blog/2012/10/a-revised-plot-checklist.html

Cheryl Keiln is a great resource. I agree with the letter "e."    :dr   :dr

eta. I would add, a good critique group to let you know if you have all of the above.