What Is a First Page?

“What Is a First Page?” by Joan Y. Edwards

The first page is not to be mixed up with the Title Page, Copyright page, or Dedication page.

What is a first page?

  • A first page is the magnet that brings a reader in.
  • It’s the hook that brings your reader into your story and keeps him there.
  • It’s the grabber that yanks him with words and emotion so strong that he can’t set himself free, until the problem is solved at the end of the book.
  • It’s the trap that holds readers inside the pages of the book.
  • It’s the enticement to stay a little longer in this make-believe world
  • It sells the rest of your manuscript

At the most, depending upon the genre, a first page double-spaced could be 250 words.

What does the First Page Do?

What makes a great first page? It tells who, what, when, where, and why should I care? Hmm. You say. That sounds like the same thing that should be in a pitch. Yes. You’re right.  I venture to say that each page in a book should contain something about leading up to the solution of the problem or the making it worse.

A first page hints of the dilemma facing the main character.
Tells the inner and outer conflict of the main character.
Tells the setting. A sense of place – are you in the air, on the ground.
Tells the time. When you read it, you know by the first page whether it is 100 years ago or sometime in the same century as you. A sense of time of day or night.
Why should the reader care? It pulls you in with emotions that a reader can identify with.

Just for comparison and enlightenment: Let’s look at the first pages of three of your favorite top-selling books in the genre you have chosen to write in.

You get your books in front of you or go to the Amazon link to its first page.

What must a first page have? A main character, setting, time, goal, and obstacle/opposing force/villain.

Wait. That’s not all. On this first page you must also give emotional pull on the reader that shows him why he should care.

Look at 3 first pages. Have the books open to the first page or click on Amazon where they show you the first page of this best-selling book.

Print out the first page of the manuscript you’re ready to send off to a critique group, editor, or agent.

Look at the first page of the story  in Chapter One. Look for the things a first page has:

  • Main character
  • Setting
  • Time
  • Goal
  • Obstacle
  • Emotional pull (Why Should I Care? Universal Emotion)

Chances are they’ve given you hints of the major problem in the story. What’s at stake for the main character? Life? Death? Success? Fame? Fortune?

Does your first page have Pizzazz? Raise curiosity in the reader?

Can your readers relate to the main character? Feel for him? Cheer for him? Be scared with him? Cry with him?

If your manuscript lacks this emotional tug at the heartstrings of your reader, add it. When an agent or editor can’t get your character out of their heads is when you have them, hook, line, and sinker!

Good luck with your publishing dreams. Keep unwavering faith in you and your stories.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it inspires you.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

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6 thoughts on “What Is a First Page?”

  1. Hi Joan! THis is a great post. I recently started a new YA and seeing this made me do a “check list” in my mind of my first page. I think I’ve hit every point I need to for a good first page. I still have some tweaking to do, but loving the process!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  2. Dear Donna,
    I’m proud of your new venture with a new YA. I’m glad it gave you a mental check list for your first page. I’m glad you’re loving the process! It is definitely fun, isn’t it? Thanks for leaving a comment. I always enjoy hearing from you.

    Celebrate you today.
    Joan Y. Edwards

    1. Dear Widdershins,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you liked my saying your first page is like a pitch. I hope your writing is going well. Celebrate you today!

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  3. Joan,

    I enjoyed the cute illustrations as a reminder of what to include in a first page. Thanks for posting this one.

    Linda A.

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