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On making the first page interesting enough : Tips and Advice • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

On making the first page interesting enough

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Shimmitar
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On making the first page interesting enough

Postby Shimmitar » Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:36 am

So yeah i read somewhere that if you want people to read your book, then you need an interesting first page, or something similar to that. Now this actually does make sense, but then when i go and read some books and look at the first page, i think to myself that it's not very interesting, yet its a NY best seller. Now when i bought the Magicians and read the first page for example, it wasn't very interesting, nor was there any tension. So i'd like to know what anyone else thinks about this.

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Crono91
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Re: On making the first page interesting enough

Postby Crono91 » Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:36 am

The "first" is always important.

The first sentence;
the first paragraph;
the first page;
the first chapter;
the first act;
the first book.

That said, you have to keep in mind the type of book it is to know what constitutes a compelling first page. Sometimes a subtle opening can be as thick with anticipation than action oriented beginnings. For instance, a book's blurb and title can work well with a first page, as in Hunger Games. I remember opening that book a minute before having to leave to work, and feeling engrossed by just the first dull page, because I could sense the disaster to come.

As for myself, the first page can easily deter me from a book. I bought Mistborn the other day, and after reading a page and a half, I put it down, never to be opened again. What gets me interested can't really be described, because it has to do with each book. In Saving Max, the book was about a legal murder mystery, where a woman's autistic son is blamed for a murder. It opens with something akin to, "Sarah gracefully fell into the doctor's leather chair." I could picture this anxious mother who knew how to keep it together, but was dreading what the doctor had to say about her son, setting up the soon-to-be murder. I tasted the anticipation.

That same line wouldn't work in, say, a science fiction.

---

The simplest thing I can say is that a good first page starts with story. It starts at the latest point it possibly could. Nothing makes me throw a book away quicker than reading an author trying to set characters and settings up via a trope that doesn't have to do with the story at hand.

Naturally there are exceptions. More than one variable determines what makes a book successful. Jurassic Park, for instance, does not start when it should, but is still an amazing book.
Be proud of your mistakes when they form from blinding passion. But now edit them.

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shadowwalker
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Re: On making the first page interesting enough

Postby shadowwalker » Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:58 am

The thing about "interesting" is that it's going to be different things for different people. (If we all knew how to draw all readers, we'd all be billionaires.) For me, it's more trying to pique the reader's curiosity. I've read books that weren't, on face value, very "interesting", but the wording, phrasing - there was something "different". And until I figured out that different thing, I kept reading. Thing is, the "different" kept evolving as the story moved along.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

Shimmitar
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Re: On making the first page interesting enough

Postby Shimmitar » Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:42 pm


Shimmitar
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Re: On making the first page interesting enough

Postby Shimmitar » Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:48 pm

Deleted
Last edited by Shimmitar on Fri Nov 18, 2016 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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pls
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Re: On making the first page interesting enough

Postby pls » Fri Nov 18, 2016 5:01 pm

This should be in a critique forum. "Alright" is not a word.
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cynicalwanderer
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Re: On making the first page interesting enough

Postby cynicalwanderer » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:24 pm

I like to think of it as a numbers game. X number of readers will drop off if the first sentence or paragraph doesn't capture their interest. Another X after the first page. And then on through the first scene, chapter, part. And like others have said, some readers only want to gorge down immediate action whereas others will be patient and live on hooks for a while.

As the author, you don't need to pander to the first group and write an explosion into every first sentence you write. But at the same time, neither can you trust that the majority of your readers will stick with you for chapter after chapter of introductory waffle before anything happens. The story is yours to tell, at the pace you choose to tell it; just bear in mind that you can't please everyone and you will inevitably lose some of your readers the longer you go without feeding them some excitement.
"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.


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