The First Page of Your Novel — Making it Shine

The first page, the first paragraph, the first sentence, the first word–this is where every writer begins, where the all-important first impression must take hold, and it’s this first page I’m going to focus on in this post.

Writing is about a balance of style, generally run in the order of: dialogue, action, emotion, and thought.  Yet this general balance can be switched up here and there, thereby giving the flow of your paragraphs greater reading appeal.  Take a moment to study the first page of some of your favorite books.  After you’ve done that, I’m sure you’ll become ultra-aware of this balance, spotting for yourself the natural flow and then the shifts which add appeal.

Another obvious point is to ensure your heroine and hero are clashing somewhere within the first few pages of your book.  Don’t wait until the second chapter before we meet him.  Sure, I’ve read many books where the first chapter is dedicated to her, and the second to him, and then the third chapter finally sees them coming together, but these authors have other published work and a reader base that knows they’re going to deliver.  But for those new to writing, stick with the winning combination of building tension quickly and efficiently right from the first page.

Some great advice is to begin with a snappy first liner of dialogue.  Don’t get weighed down with the description of your location or character or their history.  Readers certainly don’t need to hear what he or she is wearing in that vital first page.  Instead they want to connect to the characters and feel the tension, feel where your story is going to lead, because as they say conflict+conflict=story.

Also, make sure you become aware of the red flags in writing that turn editors off, and trust me they are very real.  As an example these are issues like your first page beginning with backstory.  This is a huge no-no as it immediately tells the editor you don’t have the skill to bring history in, as and when necessary, in the forward telling of your story.  For more information google or bing “editors red flags in writing,” and see what others report as red flags.

In writing this post, I’m hoping I’ve been able to shed some light on making your first page shine.  All the best, and please follow if you wish to stay tuned.

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2 thoughts on “The First Page of Your Novel — Making it Shine

  1. Excellent advice Joanne! That’s the approach I’ve used in my romantic suspense. Not so much for the Women’s Fiction with Romantic Elements of my other two novels. But, definitely for the romance. Right on.

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