I’m delighted to be part of Freshly Squeezed’s first competition – The P1 Blitz! If you’re a YA writer with a new manuscript or WIP, visit Freshly Squeezed for details. Even if you don’t think you want feedback, you need it! Everyone writer does.
So, as an ‘industry pro’, I’ve been asked to blog about what I like to see in the first page of a book – and I think this goes for all categories, not just YA.
My advice is to not get hung up on following every piece of advice going. It’s impossible. You will go insane trying. A page one needs to be the natural start to your story, simple as that. Dump the reader into the scene where a, but not necessarily the main, character’s life is about to be altered.
You don’t have to blow up the world, or kill a bunch of people. You don’t have to have your character tell the reader they’re looking for a new love interest and that guy looks perfect over there. You don’t have to let the earth be invaded by aliens. Or anything equally dramatic or shocking. A reader will know if you’re trying too hard.
Of course, if that’s how the story starts then go for it. Obvious can work, as long as it’s impeccably and originally written.
On the B side, don’t tell us what the character’s having for breakfast or exactly what they’re wearing, right down to their undies. And definitely don’t give us a mahoossive paragraph into the character’s history and how they arrived at your opening scene, or a leaf by leaf description of the world we’re in. Drop those details in later on, gradually.
Subtle intrigue. Work in plenty. Drop in a clue or two. Whet your reader’s appetite.
Keep your writing snappy. Tight, tight, tight. Consider every single verb and adjective. Are they perfect? Do you really need that adverb? Probably not. Have you told the reader your character is sad or scared, or have shown this in their thoughts or body language? Is there enough white space on the page so the reader isn’t put off before they even start?
Think of your favourite books. Why did you keep reading? Re-read, analyse and try to highlight what is was. A brilliant character, a beautiful scene. Where was the first clue dropped in to give you an inkling as to how the rest of the story might go? How was it dropped in?
Or flip it over and think of a book you picked up, read page one and put back down. Why did you? Why was it boring?
And finally, read your page one then skip forward to say page five or ten, or where something remarkable or intense happens. Do you need the pages that go before this?
Page one, chapter one is hard. (Not as hard as a synopsis but let’s not even go there.) Ask most writers, professional or otherwise. You’re never going to please everyone so don’t strive to, but break through the boundaries, be original.
I hope you'll enter the contest, I look forward to reading your page 1's!
The beautiful and talented Emma Wicker kindly nominated me (OK, a while ago) for a Liebster Award. The rules are: answer 10 given questions, then choose some others with an awesome blog and ask them 10 questions.
Here are my questions and answers.
1. Do you have a favorite book, if so what is it?
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.
2. If you could be any character from a book, who would it be and why?
Definitely one of the kids from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Just so I can go through the wardrobe and out the other side! I used to try it when I was young. Plus, apparently my spirit animal is an enormous lion (don’t ask) so I’d like to meet Aslan.
3. Have you ever read a book so profound that once you’ve read it, you can’t get it out of your head?
Profound probably isn’t the right word, but The Uninvited by Liz Jensen made me want to turn straight back to the beginning and re-read. Goose bumps and creep outs.
4. Where is your favorite place to read?
In bed. It’s my favourite place in general.
5. What POV do you prefer to read?
6. How often do you read?
Every hour of every day unless I’m sleeping!
7. What are you reading right now?
Unpublished manuscripts I’m either beta reading or about to edit.
8. Have you ever not finished a book? If so, why?
Yes, lots. They’re either utterly boring, didn’t grab me, badly written or too preacher-y.
9. If you could live in the world of any book, what world/book would it be?
I’ve probably answered this above, Narnia.
10. Is there a book due for release that you are eagerly waiting for?
The follow up to Spark by Rachael Craw. Get a move on, Rachael!
And now I get to ask 10 questions to some lovely bloggy writer-y type peeps. So, I would like to nominate the following for a Liebster Award…
And your questions are…
What do you write; genre, catergory, etc?
When do you write?
Why do you write?
Computer or notepad, pencil or pen?
Noise, if so what kind, or silence?
Describe your current WIP in less than 20 words.
Agent or editor – which would you rather be?
Which book do you wish most of all you’d written?
If not a writer, what’s your dream job?
Dream date – doesn’t have to be a book character.
And that's it. Thanks for stopping by for a read. Come again soon.