Posted by Jean Hall on Feb 14th, 2013 | 0 comments
Can you answer one little question, please?
Just what’s so special about the first page of a WIP anyhow?
Why does everyone keep talking about having a great first page? Doesn’t it take a few pages to really get the story moving? You know what I mean?
Are those editors and agents serious when they say they give a manuscript five measly minutes to win them? That’s only a few pages. Don’t they know how much research I do for my books? Don’t they want kids to learn all the interesting history and facts I’ve uncovered?
And what about all of the incredible characters I’ve created? I need to introduce the reader to them and their relationships to each other before I actually start the story. Don’t you agree?
And I have to set up the story with some back story – right? The kind of stuff that helps the reader understand the motivation behind the characters’ actions.
And the setting. The reader has to know where the story takes place. And when. That could be the Middle Ages, the Roaring Twenties, or 2010. I have to let the reader know all of this before he can get wrapped up in my story. Don’t I?
All those details take time – and pages. Surely editors and agents can appreciate that, right?
This first page stuff has me a little worried though. I heard an editor say she gives a manuscript three or four paragraphs to grab her interest. Another one wrote that she gives a manuscript 10 seconds to grab her. TEN SECONDS! If it doesn’t, that manuscript goes to the “No thanks” pile. Do you realize that translates into one or two sentences?
One or two sentences to introduce the main character.
The same one or two sentences to show the reader where and when my story takes place.
Those same one or two sentences to start the plot moving forward. Now just how am I supposed to do that?
The same one or two sentences to reveal the main character’s biggest problem or desire.
And the same one or two sentences to give the reader a good hint at what the story is about and where it is headed.
Sheeze! Can I do that? Can anybody do that?
I get one or two sentences to win that editor over. It’s just not fair! Do they expect me to be some kind of expert or something?
It seems that my manuscript and I have a very long way to go. About as far as from my house to North Greenville University, I think.
Maybe I WILL sign up for that Write2Ignite! Conference thingy.
Maybe it will help me cram all of this stuff into the first few sentences.
It certainly couldn’t hurt…
Hopelessly Anonymous Writer