Three Ways to Make Those First Pages Good

Good is such a vague word, but I felt like the title was already getting too long. Anyway, I know this topic has been covered in every way, shape, and form. But if I let that stop me from writing a blog post I'd be hard-pressed to come up with anything. You'd be reading a blog about how I make my tea in the mornings or the intricacies of my dog's mannerisms. Which aren't that intricate. Pant, sleep, and follow me around the house. Getting off topic! I'll just dive right in.

1. Come up with a unique hook.

The reason every post on this mentions a good hook is because it is one of the most important aspects of those first pages.  It's the first sentence the  reader absorbs, it sets the tone, and it (hopefully) makes them want to read more. Sometimes I'll come up with eight different hooks for one story to make sure I have the best one. Here are a couple hooks for stories I've set aside. I died on the day before Christmas. Or, Mom begged us to stay home that weekend. While I'm not saying I'm any kind of authority on this, I'd like to think my hooks have some oomph to them. That's what people look for. Just a little oomph.

2. Make the first scene pivotal.

What I mean by this is, make the first scene a change in the main character's life. If you're writing a contemporary, start with something as drastic as a death or intriguing as meeting someone new. Examples of amazing first scenes are Beth Ravis' Across the Universe. It begins with the main character's family "freezing" themselves in preparation for waiting for a ship to land in three hundred years. Wow, that was not as simple as I tried to make it sound. Anyway, here we have a science fiction novel, and it begins with a monumental change - or event - in the main character's life. That's what we should all go for. Again, oomph.

3. Use a narrative that makes the reader feel like everything is a secret.

When I write, I like to picture someone tucked under some covers, holding my book close to their face. Make the voice intimate, vulnerable yet resolved. Even a weak character is going somewhere and needs some kind of strength. Maybe they just aren't aware of it. I use fragments - gasp! - and refer to aspects of the main character's life the reader doesn't yet know about. The thing about telling a story is that it needs to belong to someone. Does that make sense? When agents and editors are asked what they are looking for in a novel, it's almost always voice. This is how I accomplish a good voice.

Yes, my methods are repetitive and pretty basic. But they work. I know my strengths, and I usually have strong first pages. Now, the middle and the end are another story...