On Target – about First Pages

I get to work with a lot of early writers. Many have great command of language and know correct sentence structure. They are passionate about their story and their characters are strong, though often not quite flawed enough. Many have a unique voice and style – in short – they are well on their way to becoming published authors if they want that. The problem they share? The story takes forever to get started!

I’ve studied a lot of books, authors, and experts in the past few years in hopes that I can help my writers write a book that will stand out – the book that’s as passionate for the reader as for the author.

Both Elizabeth Sinclair’s FIRST PAGES, and Jeff Gerke’s THE FIRST 50 PAGES, address some of the surefire ways to fail as a fiction writer. Here are a few of the recurring themes…

  • Get the basics down. Know the internal and external goal, motivation and conflict of your main characters
  • Early on, clearly establish what’s at stake. Show the reader, then threaten to take it away. Start with an inciting incident. Hook the reader in the heart
  • Don’t be afraid to show the readers some flaws and obstacles right off the bat, making each successive obstacle tougher on the protagonist than the last one
  • Endear your characters to your readers with their humanness. Angst and humor both work

If you’re struggling with making your first pages the type you know will turn an editor or agent’s head, I highly recommend these two resources written by very successful authors. And don’t forget our number one learning tool – reading the authors who “click” for us!!  What do THEY do in the first three chapters??? Analyze it and learn!

Until Sunday with Penny, KEEP WRITING! NQ

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About NL Quatrano

Award-winning author, speaker, editor and ghost writer, Nancy owns a full-time editing, writing and specialty publishing business: On-Target Words/WC Publishing. Volunteer/member of professional writing organizations including Florida Writers Assoc., Sisters in Crime, and AWAI. 2010 Professional Woman of the Year by the NAPW. Linked in Editor Pick May 2013. International Women's Leadership Association nominee for Outstanding Leadership 2014.
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