Time and time again, we’re told ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ – well, when it comes to writing the first page of your story, its true!
Yes, the bright beautiful cover of your book might shout ‘pick me’, yes, the blurb might provide a captivating teaser of its hidden depths, but as soon as your potential reader flips the book over and turns to the first page…it’s make it or break it.
There’s approximately thirty lines standing in the way between you and your reader. Thirty lines to make a compelling, exciting, irresistible first impression and convince a perfect stranger to carry on reading. No pressure.
So, before you put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, we’re here with our top ten tips for writing a first page that WOWS!
1) Start with a bang!
Your first page should turn your character’s life upside-down! Open the story in the midst of an inciting incident that grabs your reader’s attention and doesn’t let it go…
2) A killer first line…
If your story starts with a bang, then the first line is pulling the trigger. Short, sweet and to the point. There’s no going back now!
3) Once upon a time…?
No! We’re not writing fairy tales here, so make sure you ground your story in reality with the when, the what, the why and the how. Your reader needs to believe it could happen!
4) Nice to meet you!
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but try not to confuse your reader. Typically, the first character your reader meets should be the protagonist…not a passer-by.
5) No cardboard cut-outs please…
Your protagonist needs to be three-dimensional (everyone has a flaw!), hint at the conflict that is the driving force of their decisions, it’s this depth that will pique your reader’s interest and keep them turning pages!
6) Throw us in at the deep end!
When it comes to immersing the reader in your character’s world, there’s no point just dipping your little toe in the pool! Use all five senses and throw us into the story.
7) Talking the talk…
…is just as important as walking the walk. We don’t watch our own lives from the sidelines, dialogue is crucial in revealing aspects of our character’s personality.
8) Avoid the info-dump!
The fact that your character’s sister’s boyfriend’s aunt is called Doreen, or that the train was three minutes late yesterday can come later. Keep it immediate, keep it exciting!
9) Page two is too late…
The rest of your story needs to wow too, but be careful about setting the scene on the first page and then dropping the inciting incident on the second. By that time, your books already back on the shelf!
10) And so begins the journey!
Your first page is the wind in your protagonist’s sails, from this point onwards their journey begins. Love them or loathe them, we should be intrigued by them…and want to follow them to the very end!
Happy writing, and happy wow-ing!