I’m here to alleviate that niggle of doubt about your first page and give you the perfect recipe that will hook in your readers.
The most important step to a successful first page is your character. If your character is not yet fully developed then go back to the drawing board. From the word go your character needs to be dynamic and fluid in their actions and thoughts. You need to understand your character’s motivations, their wants and needs. You need to know your character better than you know your best friend. That way when you begin to write their opening scene, your writing will feel authentic, personalised and filled with specific nuances for your character. This will show the reader that your character is worth investing in. If your character is bland or two-dimensional, a reader will switch off straight away.
Start in the middle of a scene
I read so many books where the author starts the story at the beginning of a scene and it makes me scream WHY? It is far more exciting for a reader to be thrown into the middle of the action. This leaves the reader wanting to read on in order to find out what the hell is going on. It gets their adrenaline going and their passion pumping. The reader then takes on the roles of a detective from the outset, trying to uncover the clues of your narrative.
A unique and intriguing detail
From the get go you need to draw your reader in with a unique detail about your novel. This could be a description of an amazing setting, a secret personality trait of a character, an intriguing memory from a character’s past. Whatever detail it is it has to entice the reader to want to read on to uncover more secrets.
I know it is tempting to begin a story with a magnificent description of a setting or a character, however, although a description is important it is dialogue that will give a reader an insight into your character’s personality better than any simile or metaphor will. Have your main character talk to someone in depth about something that is happening. Give the reader a taste for the inner workings of your character through what they say and how they act, not just focusing on what they look like.
Your first few paragraphs need to be structured effectively. Each paragraph must link into the next seamlessly. This can be done using camera angles, panning around the opening scene and pointing out different occurrences. Or it can be zooming in and out of the first scene to show the view from inside the action and outside. Don’t let your paragraphs flow into one another naturally, this often leads to complacent paragraphs (paragraphs that are showy and don’t add anything to the narrative). Make sure you purposely construct the beginning and end of each paragraph.
Want more? Go to my series of tips for Beginning a Novel.
Image sourced from Pixabay.