The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. One of the books my father read to me as a child, inspiring my desire to write and love of reading. Start them young! #reading #writing #Author #RutheMcDonald #Johnrue™ #RudyardKipling #TheJungleBook #tbt
I used to wish I had a mentor, but then I realized that I have hundreds. I have books, and each one was written by an author; someone who wanted me to know something so badly that he or she wrote it down to help make it withstand the burden of time. I’ve learned things from people I’ve never met and places I’ve never been. I’ve grown with characters that only exist as letters and whispers. I’ve received advice from people who died long ago. And to all my mentors, near or far, living or long gone.. Thanks. For letting me know that even when I’m by myself, I am never alone.
A few months ago, I started singing lessons. My instructor assigned me to learn “Royals” by Lorde, and over the next few weeks, we worked together on that song. Then one week, my instructor abruptl…
Poems on We Heart It
I absolutely adore Angela Nissel. She is the sweetest person, and she is an absolutely brilliant writer. I highly recommend these books—they are absolutely hilarious, and I think that each contains things that everyone can relate to.
Snippet of ‘The Broke Diaries’ (from Angela’s website):
On buying ramen noodles: I am sooooooo embarassed. I only have 33 cents. I (please don’t laugh) put the money on the counter and quickly attempt to dash out with my Chicken Flavored Salt Noodles. The guy calls me back! I look up instinctively, I should have run … Why didn’t I run???!! He tells me the noodles are 35 cents. I try to apologize sincerely. I thought the sign said 33 cents yesterday, so that’s all I brought with me. Could he wait while I ran home and get the 2 cents? I show him my student I.D. to let him know I am not a thief. He shakes his head and motions either for me to get the hell out of his store and never come back again or get the money as do come back. I don’t know. He said something like “Nyeh” and swiped his hand in my direction. I can’t translate hand motions well.
The noodles: tasty!!!
Imagine this: you’re walking around a bookstore and a book catches your eye. Maybe it’s the cover, or the title, or the author or a combination of those factors, but something makes you pick up the book to take a closer look at it. After reading the back cover copy, it still sounds interesting, so what’s the next thing you do?
Chances are you aren’t walking over to the counter to buy it yet—you’re going to sample it first by cracking it open to the first page.
From there, one of two things happen: either the writing grabs you and you bring the book to the counter or make a mental note to buy it later, or you lose interest and return it to the shelf. Two very different results based solely on whether or not you like what you find on that first page.
I don’t know about you guys, but when sampling a book, I generally read until I don’t want to anymore. If I’ve made it to the end of the first chapter (or however long the sample is, in the case of e-books) and I’m still interested, I’ll buy the book, or at least add it to my TBR list. If I lose interest somewhere before that (even if that “somewhere” is in the first sentence), I put the book back and move on. And as I understand it, I’m not the only one who samples books in a similar manner.
The thing is, when a reader picks up your book, your first page carries the very heavy responsibility of grabbing their interest and not letting go for anything. There’s no such thing as a throwaway sentence in your first 250 words—every line must make the reader want to read the next, or it doesn’t belong there.
Your first page must:
- Hook the reader. Whether the reader is an agent, editor or someone contemplating whether or not to buy your book, the first page is your only chance to grab their attention.
- Introduce your protagonist. This pretty much goes without saying, but we need to meet your protagonist just about immediately if you hope to grab interest.
- Make your readers care. In most cases your readers aren’t going to fall in love with your protagonist in the first 250 words, but by the end of the first page they should have a good sense as to why they should care about your protagonist’s plight, which leads me to…
- Hint at conflict. This doesn’t mean that there needs to be a gun battle on the first page, but we need to get a sense (even if it’s just foreboding) that something isn’t quite right, or that something will happen very soon.
It’s a lot of work for just 250 words, but it’s truly essential to a successful first page, and it’s why publishing professionals often advise against starting a novel with a character doing menial, everyday tasks (ergo brushing teeth, getting ready for school, etc.). When revising the beginning of your WIP, I recommend taking a good hard look at that first page to see if it accomplishes those four tasks. It might just be what you need to pique someone’s interest in your work.NOTE: After writing this post I found this very informative post by agent Laurie McLean on the first pages of a WIP including some very helpful dos and don’ts. Definitely check it out.
In your opinion, how important is the first page of a novel? How long do you usually read when sampling work?
do you ever just want to slap your character