The Crucial First Page

Your first page is your most important page. Whether it’s a ten-page story or a 400-page novel , your biggest task is getting the first page perfect. However, your first page which you wrote yesterday when you got a great idea for a story, or the one you wrote months ago when you began your novel, does not need to be perfect. In fact, it’s almost impossible to write the best first page until you are finished with all the other pages.

Here’s why. A first page must do many things , only some of which writers know when they begin:

It must establish a point of view. Who is telling the story?

A first page must also establish a setting.. There is a reason for stories to begin where and when they do.

The first page should establish the tone for the rest of the novel or story. Will it be cynical and opinionated, or sentimental and romantic.

Ideally, the first page should show readers the conflict, so they will know what is at stake for the protagonist. Sometimes you can do it in the first line, like Tolstory’s Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Or Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

When you have finished your entire first draft, you will write your true first page.

All of the things that must be accomplished on a first page really have to be accomplished on every page in your story. Remind the reader who your hero or heroine is and what he wants. You must keep the tone consistent, the setting alive, the conflict accelorating, the writing honest. In a way, every page is the first page. It’s just that the real first page must hold all of the promise and expectation for what’s still to come.

If I can help you with any of your writing problems, contact me at the address in About Me or My Books.
I am always happy to hear your comments.


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