I recently finished reading Hank Green’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. I know it won’t surprise you to know that I can’t finish one book without immediately picking up another.
I picked a title off of my “To Be Read” shelf, made some hot tea in the kitchen, sat in my favorite reading recliner, covered up with my fuzzy blue blanket, and cracked the cover! I was so excited to read this book – my friend who recommended the book raved about it for weeks.
However, I couldn’t make it past the first page. The hook wasn’t grabbing me!
I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS! As a reader, this is my #1 pet peeve!
Some common problems I’ve seen with introductory pages are:
- Having too much backstory and explanation. (Until the reader knows and cares about the characters, they don’t want to know the history of the world or the backstory of the protagonist.)
- Crafting a one-dimensional scene. (Some opening scenes focus on one thing and one thing only: a beautiful description, an action sequence, retrospective navel-gazing, etc.)
- Using a fake opening. (It’s a bait and switch, and no one likes to be tricked. DON’T do this!)
- Having a lazy protagonist. (A lazy protagonist just sits around waiting for something to happen to her. She has nothing she wants, no goal in mind, she isn’t trying to accomplish anything—she’s just sitting around navel gazing or walking through a pretty setting. The job of a protagonist is to drive the plot, and if she’s not doing anything, the story goes nowhere!)
Take a look at your first page again. Does it grab the reader? Is there too much “filler” writing?
If you think your first page could use some first aid, I can help. I only charge $97 to review your first page, make any grammar or punctuation suggestions, and give unbiased feedback about the opening of your manuscript. Contact me to reserve a spot on my calendar for your review.
When you query, most agents would like the first page (or first chapter) of your manuscript with your query letter. Even if you don’t have the funds to get your book alpha or beta read prior to querying, then at least take a step to ensure your first page and hook is as clean and tight as it can be!
If an agent can’t get past your first page, they won’t be giving you a call.