Friday, January 9, 2015

First Page Checklist

I've been catching up with my inbox. It was getting out of hand. Between being in my cave writing, Thanksgiving and the holidays well, lets just say I needed an intervention. One of the gems I unearthed was a post by Ray Rhamey of the Flogged Quill, The Challenge: Does This Narrative Compel You To Turn the Page?

It's the first page that grabs the reader. Many times its the first sentence. Here is Ray's first-page checklist:

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist.
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There's enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We're in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We're in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question-what happens next? or why did that happen?
I remember the first draft of my first story. I eagerly read it at literary group meeting to three well published authors. I had worked hard on the story especially the opening. I saw it as a movie. The first thing I see in a movie is the setting. So, I diligently, and meticulously, described the scene.

Are you laughing? They loved the description. They told me to save it for someplace else but to come up with something more compelling. It was replaced with a fight scene.

Think about some of the books you've read or written. How did they begin? What did you like, or not like about it?