The first page is the most valuable property in a book. If a reader doesn’t feel compelled to get beyond those first few paragraph than the rest might as well be pi numerals.
I have been told this many times by editors, and yet one of the biggest pieces of feedback I got about a recent manuscript was that it’s opening had some nice views and flashy appliances but frankly, wasn’t all that enticing. I have been wondering where oh where I went wrong until I read this post by Jessica Brody, author of Unremembred.
According to Jessica, it’s not enough to pack the first scene with tonnes of action, but you must also hide a ball within it,
“The ball is the essence of the opening scene. It’s what you’re trying to get across. It’s the situation your hero is in, the problem your hero is having, the predicament your hero is trying to get out of.”
In other words, include a nice bit of tension that will not only hook the reader and get them to turn the page, but also set up a solid trajectory for the rest of the novel.
I like this concept because it so clearly illustrates what needs to happen and how. And now back to my own page one–I got a feeling somebody’s window just might have to get broken.