You’ve learned so much from classes and workshops. Your work reads fluently, your imagery links to theme, you’re in love with your characters, but you just know those first five pages could be stronger. And you also know that the first five pages of your manuscript can make or break you. What do you do?
It’s not like you haven’t been over them a thousand times before. You may have been working on this book for years all ready. There’s a good bit later on where the story really takes off, but the opening pages need to accomplish so much.
They’re a promise to your readers of the kind of journey they can expect if they buy the golden ticket—your book. That sounds like it should be fun to write—and it can be—but too often the sheer joy of storytelling gets bogged down in the mire of the list of must-haves:
But there’s a danger, in following rules too faithfully, that your otherwise unique voice will start to sound drearily familiar. These hooks don’t have to be dead bodies or some other heavy-handed attempt to grab the reader’s attention. They may be as simple as subverting the reader’s expectation of what a person with a particular occupation might say or do in a given situation. The janitor who stops mopping the floor of a deserted university hallway to complete a complex math problem left on a chalkboard is going to have my attention for at least another page (“Good Will Hunting”).
I learned from a master teacher, Mary Buckham, and in June (7-18th) she’s repeating her online class, MASTER CLASS: The First Five Pages at WriterUniv.com. The best news is that it’s only $55 instead of the heftier price of a workshop where you have to pay for a hotel, too. I hope a lot of you will head on over and find out more about: