Four Tips for First Pages
1. Provide the MC's age or give some context so we can understand their age (especially for MG)
Show the MC's age to help guide the reader. Some ways to sneak in the MC's age without heavy info-dumping include listing the MC's school year (ex: "seventh grade classroom") or having the MC refer to a previous time (ex: "last year, when I was eleven years old").
2. Not sure where to start? Consider mirroring the beginning and the ending
What's the last scene like? Take Legally Blonde as an example -- in the beginning, Elle Woods is expecting Warner, her boyfriend, to propose but he ends up dumping her. At the end, she's at the top of her class and graduating with honors, and her new boyfriend is planning on proposing to her that night. You'll sometimes hear this referred to as "a full circle ending".
3. Focus on the bare minimum
Focus on the essential parts of your story that the READER needs to set up the world in their mind. In other words, don't introduce characters they'll never meet or ideas that don't matter in the grand scheme of your book.
4. Establish the promise of premise
What is your story about? Is your story about faeries? Wizards? A goose girl? Your first few pages should introduce readers to your MC's world, the moments before the Inciting Incident (where everything changes).
Here's a GREAT tweet from Justina Ireland on promise of the story and establishing scenes:
These tips won't apply to every story -- there's exceptions to every rule -- but which of these ideas might work for yours? And what are your tips for beginnings? Share in the comments below or tweet me @JulieAndBooks.
Also this month, I joined Camp NaNo and I really recommend it as a way to meet awesome new friends and get that extra push for your drafts!
Good luck with your first pages, and happy writing.
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About Julie Abe
Julie writes magical MG and YA adventures. Julie's debut, EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH, is a middle grade fantasy releasing in 2020 (Little, Brown Young Readers), and the magic will continue in 2021! She is represented by Sarah Landis at Sterling Lord Literistic.
How I Got My Agent!
My Top Questions for The Call
Tips for (Before) The Call
How-to: Create an Author's Website
4on7: Author Mentor Match