Tag Archives: manuscript

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

Can Your Draft Manuscripts Have Two Spaces after Periods?

Dear Honored Readers:

With the advent of word processing programs, the publishing industry changed the number of spaces after a period. Instead of two spaces after a period, as used with typewriters, they changed it to one space after periods. I was going along with that. I set my Word program to make sure I put only one space after every period.

After an agent requested all manuscripts with two spaces after periods this summer, I was wondering if the rules had changed again and I didn’t know. I did research and discovered that they hadn’t changed the rules. In a published work, one space is put after a period.

However, I found many links that said for draft manuscripts, two spaces after periods is allowed. It gives the editors more space to write their notes. In a comment below, William Shunn pointed out that double-spacing gives more room for editors to write their notes. That is true.  I also read where two spaces after periods is for this same reason. Check guidelines of the editor or agent to whom you are sending your submission. If they have specific guidelines, follow them.

I don’t remember reading this in any of the submission guidelines for publishers or agents, except for the one I had contact with.

My advice is: check the guidelines. If the editor or agent says, put two spaces after periods, do it.

Here are the resources I found, who they were written by and what they said:

MLA (Modern Language Association) Manual one space unless instructor asks for different spacing.

AP (Associated Press) Style Guide says one space after periods.

Chicago Book of Style – one space after periods.

James Felici on Creative Pro.com. One space and excellent explanation.

Pro Blog Service: Started a quandary of people upset about using one space after periods.

MLA one space unless instructor asks for different spacing.

William Shunn: Use two spaces in a draft manuscript: William Shunn in Proper Manuscript Format http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

Sarah Wiederkehr: AP(Associated Press) Style Book: Use two spaces after a period for a draft manuscript.

Robert L. Bacon Double-spacing for draft manuscripts

Robert L. Bacon: Double Spacing after periods in draft manuscripts.
Eight Hints to Properly Format a Manuscript for an Agent, Editor or Publisher by Robert L. Bacon

Thanks for reading my blog. Please leave a question, comment, or resource.
I am honored to have 51 as of November 2011.

I would be honored if you would sign up for an email subscription to my blog from the “Sign me up” block from the top of the left hand column or the Follow Me at the top of the blog.

Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright 2010 Joan Y. Edwards. All rights reserved.