Monday, November 12, 2012

The Importance of the First Page by Linda S. Glaz

You’ve written a four-hundred page novel. The characters are alive with personality, flaws, traits that will please, astound, and amaze your reader. The plot twists and leaves your readers panting for more.
So why no agent? Why no contract? Why no requests for a full read?
Many wonderful novels are kept locked away in the author’s desk drawer because they missed one very fine concept:
The first page has to wow ‘em!
In most instances, you will have one chance to encourage an agent or editor to continue reading a story that all your friends and critters have pronounced “a winner”.
I recall one writer telling me, “but you aren’t to the good part yet. Keep reading. By chapter three you won’t be able to put it down.” Now, the fact of the matter is, if you make a reader wait until the third chapter for it to “get good” you’ve lost the reader.
And that brings us back to the first page. Starting one-third to halfway down the page, you have about 10-12 double-spaced lines to hook the agent or editor or reader, if truth be told.
Ten lines! That’s it! Possibly one full page, all depends on how you send out your proposal.
Now, I’ll grant you, if you’ve written an amazing synopsis, and IF the agent reads that before reading the opening, you might get an extra page or two in their hands, but let’s be honest here, your submission rests almost solely on the first page of your novel.
You don’t have to murder someone on page one.
You don’t have to show a graphic, face blushing, steamy sexual scene.
You don’t even have to show an earth-shaking terrorist attack.
But you do have to grab the reader, rattle his or her teeth until they tingle, and force that reader to flip just on more page.
One page.
One chance.
One look.
Don’t waste it!


Caroline said...

I like your post. Good advice.

Jennifer Major said...

I had what I thought was a wickedly awesome first page. But apparently killing off people on Page One doesn't endear the reader to the whole "no, seriously, this IS a romance!" concept. Sooooo. Back to square of Page One.
Now? It's silk gowns with beading, gossamer veils and clouds of hope, and literally, Arabian Nights and Turkish carpets.
The heroine has a reprieve until page three, THEN it's POOF!!
And I'm much happier with how it turned out.

Anonymous said...

That first page is real tricky, because what I think might be a hook might not be to others.

Linda Glaz said...

Yes, it is tricky and not necessarily a hook, but rather, something needs to happen. You have to tease the reader into wanting to know what happens on the next page. Most readers in the store read the first page or two and if they don't like it, they don't buy it. Same with most agents and editors I've talked with. You'd better get their attention in those first couple pages.