Pitch Prep: What Makes a Great First Page?

by Jami Gold on January 5, 2012

in Writing Stuff

Series of outdoor entrances, pulling the eye deeper into a garden

It was a dark and stormy blog post.  *snicker*

We’re continuing to prepare for the January 10-16th Pitch Your Shorts pitch session by tackling the issue of story openings.  (Check out Tuesday’s post for everything there is to know about pitching.)

While the purpose of a pitch is to get a request, the purpose of a story’s first page is to make people want to keep reading.  Whether the reader is an agent/editor looking at sample pages or a bookstore customer flipping open the cover, if they want to turn the page, we’ve succeeded.

Our number one goal with our first line, paragraph, and page is to pull readers along for the ride.  So for everything we write on that all-important first page, we have to ask ourselves, “Will this draw a reader in or push them away?”

What Pulls In a Reader?

Instead of looking at story openings as writers, we need to look at them from a reader’s perspective.  As a reader, the main question we have when we start a story is, will our time be well spent?  Will we be entertained or informed?

Let’s go through the standard advice for story openings and look at why those tips help pull in readers.

  • “Start the story at the right point, just before something happens in the main character’s life that forces a change or decision.”

At their essence, stories are about change.  Weather and settings don’t change much, which is why they’re too static for openings.  We need to see characters encountering a problem.

These changes or problems don’t have to be big or be the main issue that will carry the story forward.  Hints of impending issues or a gap between the expected and the reality tell us there’s something to look forward to, that there’s a story there.

  • “Start with action or conflict.”

This advice doesn’t refer to the Michael Bay approach to action with car chases and explosions.  In fact, the conflict doesn’t even have to involve a character.  The conflict can be within us, between what we expect and the words on the page.

Think of the opening line to George Orwell’s 1984“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  Our “Wait…What?” reaction to that sentence grabs us even though no punch was thrown.  Again, there’s a promise of more to come.

  • “Be surprising or mysterious.”

We keep reading to find out what will happen next and to learn the answers to our questions.  Every time a story answers a question, a new one should be posed.

Opening with backstory answers our questions too quickly.  We need to have just enough information to avoid confusion and understand we have a gap in our knowledge.  Human nature wants to fill that gap—and keep reading.

  • “Make readers care about characters and events.”

We care more about our friends’ problems than those of strangers.  Characters who are relatable make us more curious to find out how they deal with their problems and adapt to changes.

This doesn’t mean we want a physical description of characters or a dry backstory of their tale of woe.  We want to see characters in action, showing us who they are, their strengths and weaknesses, and what matters to them.

  • “Have a strong voice.”

Sometimes an opening that breaks every rule can succeed if the voice is strong enough to pull us along.  We all know those types in real life: a person with amazing charisma or a great personality.

Those people don’t lack for friends because they automatically seem interesting.  The same thing applies to characters.  We want to get to know them.

Curiosity drives a reader to turn the page.  Readers don’t want to see ordinary, and any exposition or explanation that can wait until later, should wait until later.

(Other common problems, like clichés, overwriting, and sloppy craft, make readers suspect the author lacks the skill to fulfill the story’s promises.  The edittorrent blog has a list of “marks of the amateur,” craft mistakes that make a manuscript look unprofessional.)

How to Prepare for the Pitch Your Shorts Pitch Session

My post here on January 10th will open the week-long pitch session with the Entangled Publishing editors.  We’ll be leaving a two-sentence pitch and the first 100 words of our stories in the comments of that post.

(To be clear, that means the first 100-ish words.  You’re allowed to finish slightly before or after 100 words to end on a complete sentence.  *smile*)

100 words isn’t much.  It’s a given the editors will be looking for proof that we have strong writing skills.  But beyond that, we have to make them curious about our characters, their situation, their problems, and their world within those few words.  It can be done.

Here are the first 52 words of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games:

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.  My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.  She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother.  Of course, she did.  This is the day of the reaping.

The first line breaks a “rule” (Don’t have a character just waking up!), but it contrasts what the point-of-view character expected (someone in bed next to her) and what she discovered (an empty bed).  That hint of a problem pulls us to the next line, where the bedding description gives us clues about this family’s situation (someone to care about).  By the end of the first paragraph, we know something bad is about to happen.

A fantastic guest post by Natalie C. Parker at the Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing blog examines the anatomy of a good hook.  Like a hook, a story’s first line has to be sharp (“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.“), within a few lines, a barb should tug us forward (“She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother.“), and then we need a sentence connecting that opening to a story question (“This is the day of the reaping.“)

Stina Lindenblatt analyzed almost 70 story openings (a project that appeals to my perfectionist nature) to see which ones made her want to read more.  Her results?

“The first two paragraphs that made me want to read more involved a combination of introspection and action.”

Introspection and action, like the opening to The Hunger Games.  (Yes, Katniss searching for her sister is “action.”  It indicates change, want, and a problem.)

Introspection makes us curious about the character, and action makes us curious about the situation, conflict, or problem.  That will keep readers reading.

Other Resources for Learning about Story Openings

Elizabeth S. Craig’s Writer’s Knowledge Base comes to the rescue again with the ability to search for posts about first pages.

James Scott Bell has a good list of “don’t”s.

Janice Hardy tells us how to fix various “don’t”s here and here (in this second one, she also analyzes the opening of her debut book to explain how and why she made her decisions for her first 250 words).

In a guest post, Janice Hardy explains the how and why of her first line.

What part of story openings do you struggle with?  First lines?  Starting in the right place?  Resisting the information dump?  Creating curiosity?  Finding the line between curiosity and confusion?  (*raises hand to that last one*)

(Feel free to list your first 100 words below to get feedback, and feel free to comment on others’ openings.  Comments on this post are not part of the pitch session.)

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51 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Ava Jae January 5, 2012 at 6:55 am

I think for me, getting the first line right is the most difficult. I’m actually reading Hooked by Les Edgerton right now, which is all about novel openers, and his take was that the first line should hint at a problem and make the readers ask questions. I think it’s a pretty good way of looking at it.

Good luck with your pitch session! 🙂

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

Hi Ava,

I have Hooked right in front of me as I’m typing this. I read it about two months ago, but I think I need to read it a second time to make sure it all sunk in. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Angela Quarles January 5, 2012 at 7:50 am

Ah, this is so timely (as you know!) – I’m in the throes of trying to rework my first chapter. I think I struggle with trying to create something that hooks, but is also relevant to the story as a whole and that resonates.

Okay, taking a deep breath and posting the first 100 as revised from last night (already I see I’m missing some kind of action, which happens at word count 130):

A reenactment ball was the perfect setting for romance. Or not.

Isabelle stood in her oddly-shaped, but oh-so-accurate dress surrounded by women who’d sacrificed accuracy for sex appeal. She felt like a dorky kid again, showing up to dress-up day at school when everyone else had magically decided it was lame.

At least her co-worker Anna had also taken it seriously; her dress was also circa 1834. Better yet though, this being the first time she’d hung out with her, Isabelle discovered they shared a mutual obsession with guys in period clothes — specifically men in tight-fitting breeches — which had helped propel her through the early stages of the party.

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hi Angela,

I love this new opening! 🙂 “Action” is such a hard concept to understand in reference to openings. But as I said in the post, it’s not about big action, but something other than static, not flat descriptions and whatnot.

I’d say the beginning of your second paragraph shows that kind of micro-action–we have a character in motion against a background (in the words of Theresa Stevens of edittorrent). Agent Donald Maass might call it micro-tension. There’s a contrast between Isabelle and those around her. That’s conflict. Conflict is action.

Could it be amped up a bit? Sure. Maybe by using a more active verb than “stood.” Maybe something that shows her unease, like “shifted from foot to foot” or something. But I think this is a great start. 🙂 Thanks for the comment and for being brave!

Does anyone else have thoughts for Angela?

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Angela Quarles January 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Thank you Jami! You’ve helped a ton!!

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Hi Angela,

Yay! Happy to help. 🙂

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Natalie C Parker January 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

Great breakdown of the “rules.” (I only use quotation marks because that word makes me shudder and look around for a rule to break.) I especially like how you’ve pointed out that any one of these things done really well can sort of counteract the others.

And many thanks for the link! I love how you’ve applied the hook analogy to THE HUNGER GAMES. That made my morning. 🙂

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 9:11 am

Hi Natalie,

Yes, and for every “rule,” we can think of those who successfully broke it. 🙂

That’s one reason I used The Hunger Games opening. I wanted to show why it’s more important to understand the why behind the “rules” than understanding the rules themselves. If we can meet all of a reader’s needs (and meet those needs well) even though we used a “don’t,” then our opening still works. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Susan Sipal January 5, 2012 at 8:58 am

Finding that line between curiosity and confusion is a tough one. I learned early on to avoid the backstory dump, but sometimes get feedback that I’ve left the reader confused. I think because I’m working with mysteries, and I know all I’m withholding, it’s sometimes hard to know when I’ve said enough but not too much.

Looking forward to next week! Thanks Jami. 🙂

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hi Susan,

Yes, I know exactly what you mean. 🙂 This is where feedback and beta readers really helps. We know what we’re saying, but it might not make sense to someone else.

I’ve been amazed at how often just a word or three can change the reader’s perception. There’s a reason writing for publication (as opposed to for yourself) is not for the faint of heart. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Murphy January 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Awesome breakdown, Jami! I love this. I hope to be able to pitch something next week. 🙂

Great advice you gave to Angela. Hi Angela *waves* This is a great opening, but I do agree with Jami. It could be amped up. Lemme see *taps index finger on front tooth* Hm. It might be just me, but I’m not a big fan of the oh-so-accurate followed by sacrificed accuracy. I’d probably change one of those and I’d also get rid of the word felt too.
*thinking*
What about time-period appropriate dress? Era-authentic dress? Then *sacrificed accuracy* can stay. As for felt? Well…Meh, ask Jami. I’m not good at the specifics. I’m better at examples.

In her oddly-shaped, but era-authentic dress, Isobel sweated surrounded by women who’d opted to sacrifice time-period accuracy for sex appeal. It was as if she were the dorky kid at school again. The one who showed up to dress-up day after all the cool kids had declared the tradition lame.

Gee, looking at this I might even change oddly-shaped because the garment isn’t oddly shaped if it’s accurate to the time period to my way of thinking. Maybe say, outrageous, stiffling or prim? To offset the mention of sex appeal.

Good luck with this. 🙂

Murphy

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Hi Murphy,

Yes, I didn’t touch the “felt” because I’d already gone into that in an email to Angela (the poor woman). LOL!

And really? You might pitch something? Awesome! I look forward to it! 🙂

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Angela Quarles January 5, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Thanks Murphy!! I did a *facepalm* on felt, can’t believe I let that slip by me… All great suggestions, thanks for jumping in! I hope you join the pitch next week, it should be informative!

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Melinda Collins January 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hi Jami!

I struggle with not only finding the right place to start, but avoiding the info dump and also finding the line between curiosity and confusion. It’s just so hard to either get carried away with information or pick a place to start that seems or feels right, but not as exactly right as another spot that you’d never thought of before.

Thank you so much for this post! It’s definitely going to help, but in the interest of getting a 2nd opinion, here’s my first 110 words: *nervously hits the paste button*

No matter what happens, don’t move. Let him come to you. Lily repeated the trainer’s advice in her head, over and over, as if repeating them would somehow magically still her body.

“C’mon, Agent Rathbrook,” Sturgeon called out. His voice echoed throughout the single story home like it was on steroids. “I’m the last person you need to worry about.”

She could hear Sturgeon’s partner snorting from the opposite direction. “Keep telling yourself that, Sturg, and one day it might be true,” he mumbled.

Lily smiled to herself at McMillan’s idiocy – just because he spoke in a lower voice than his partner didn’t mean she couldn’t pinpoint his exact location.

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Hi Melinda,

Yes, that curiosity/confusion line is the hardest thing for me. Plotting comes naturally to me, so I’ve never had issues starting in the wrong place, but that confusion thing? Yep. 🙂

Okay, here’s my reactions to your opening. I like the first paragraph. (Would those first two line be italicized?) We get a sense of a character and her predicament.

But confusion sets in with the following paragraphs. We get a lot of names and we’re not sure who these people are to each other. Skipping Lily (because she’s our POV character), we have Rathbrook, Sturgeon, Sturgeon’s partner, and McMillan. Are those last two the same person? Is she Agent Rathbrook? Are Sturgeon and McMillan the bad guys implied in the first paragraph? (I think the answers are all “yes,” but those are “speed bump” confusion questions rather than curiosity questions, so it would be better to make things clearer.)

Could the first paragraph refer to Lily by her full name? Maybe the second paragraph could open with some way to identify the speaker (good guy or bad guy at least). The familiar way he addressed Agent Rathbrook made me assume they were on the same side at first rather than the man she was hiding from. Then you’d just need to clear up the Sturgeon’s partner/McMillan thing, and this would be much easier to understand. 🙂

The only other thing I noticed was the filter word of “hear” in the 3rd paragraph. If we’re in her POV, we don’t need to be told she heard it. Just–Sturgeon’s partner snorted from the opposite direction–would work.

I hope that helps! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Melinda Collins January 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Hi Jami,

Yes, the first two sentences would be italicized (I couldn’t figure out how to do that on here).

McMillan/Partner are the same, and that should be easy to clear up (as well as removing the filter word). And Lily’s last name is Rathbrook and she’s sorta hiding from McMillan and Sturgeon. In the next paragraph you find out that her partner has already been tagged and is lying on the floor near her.

Technically there are no good/bad guys here, but it’s set up to make you think that way since they in the middle of a training exercise. It’s one of those “Hey, wait a sec…. oh!!!” moments within the first scene of the story. I’d have to go back and maybe look at how I could possibly give a little more to the reader right off the bat rather than waiting until another page in.

Thank you for the much needed feedback, Jami! I’ve got my work cut out for me this weekend 😉

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Hi Melinda,

Yep, I’ll give instructions for all that formatting stuff in Tuesday’s post. (Thanks for reminding me!)

I think your opening is fine as far as the good guy/bad guy thing. Antagonists don’t have to be villains. Antagonists are whoever/whatever is forcing the protagonist to act, so your opening works for that aspect. We just need to see that they’re on different “teams,” even if we’re not sure what that entails. Hope that helps! 🙂

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Melinda Collins January 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Thanks, Jami! That really did help. I *think* I may have gotten it 😉

No matter what happens, don’t move. Let him come to you. Lily Rathbrook repeated the trainer’s advice in her head, over and over again, as if repeating them would somehow magically still her body.

“C’mon, Agent Rathbrook,” Sturgeon called out from down the hall, his voice echoed throughout the single story house like it was on steroids. “I’m the last person you need to worry about.” What and let your team win this one? she thought.

Sturgeon’s partner, McMillan, snorted from the opposite direction. “Keep telling yourself that, Sturg, and one day it might be true,” he mumbled.

Lily smiled to herself at McMillan’s idiocy – just because he spoke in a lower voice than his partner, didn’t mean she couldn’t pinpoint his exact location.

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Jami Gold January 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Hi Melinda,

Much clearer. 🙂 I’ll email you with some other thoughts. I’m glad it helped!

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Aldrea Alien January 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Hope no one minds me joining in here. I won’t be participating in the pitch as well … nothing would be ready by the 10th. This one in particular is in for a major overhaul. Starting with its brand new prologue …

Moonlight glittered upon the frost-shrouded road. The clatter of horses echoed through the valley, counterpointed by the rumble of wheels. Steam rose from the beasts’ flanks, billowing out their muzzles in great ashen clouds.
Six men rode either side of the carriage, hands on sword hilts and eyes surveying the gloom beyond the swinging lantern light. The last stolid trees of a once wild forest lined the road’s edge. Scrub huddled in the shadows of these wooden giants. An occasional branch hung over the cobblestones in a half-hearted canopy.
Ștefan watched from one such bough, crouched on a piece wider than he was round.

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Hi Aldrea,

Interesting! We don’t get a sense of any character until the last sentence, but the scene-setting is well done and fresh. Probably whether or not this would work would depend on the genre. The fantasy genre is more tolerant of this type of opening and of prologues in general. For other genres, a descriptive opening–for a prologue no less 🙂 –might spell rejection. I don’t know enough about the specific market you’re trying to reach to give you advice beyond that.

The fact that the description includes animal motion helps a bit, as it has more of a feel of action, and we can see that something is about to happen with the carriage and Stefan, so that might be enough to make readers curious and keep reading. I hope that helps! 🙂

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Aldrea Alien January 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Oh yes. Something most definitely happens with the carriage and Stefan.

I read fantasy, I write fantasy. At least, most of my writing tends to have magical overtones, even in the “alien” settings there’s a magical element somewhere.
I’ve had this one called Historical Fantasy which I don’t mind (what with it being set in the 15th/16th century, I suppose it’s technically correct). But, despite my protests, apparently having a vampire-like demon or angel as an MC in the story tends to equal Paranormal. Especially when there’s both.
So … um, I guess it’ll be Paranormal Romance then.

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Hi Aldrea,

Yes, if the demon or angel character was someone other than the protagonist, you could probably call it Historical Fantasy with paranormal elements or something. But with a non-human as the main character, the story probably fits better as Paranormal. Maybe it should be a Historical Paranormal? Is that a subgenre? It should be. 🙂 Good luck with it!

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Aldrea Alien January 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Historical Paranormal.
I like it. ^_^

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Angela Quarles January 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Very atmospheric, good job! You also engage several senses here

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Aldrea Alien January 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Thank you. ^_^

All I need to do is revamp the rest of the story to suit my less-sucky writing technique. I’m hoping for it to hit the 35k mark when I’m done. We’ll see.

Then it’s on to revamping its sequels. ^_^

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Shonna Slayton January 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I collect first lines that strike my fancy. Here’s the first line of the book I’m currently reading: “Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves.” -Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

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Jami Gold January 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Hi Shonna,

Ooo, that is an intriguing opening line. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Amy Ashley January 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

I can’t enter the pitch contest as I’m working on a novel rather than a short. Never can seem to push out anything small!

I liked Angela’s first sentence immensely, but got lost after that. You have wonderful voice there initially then it gets very distant and clunky. There’s more personality at the end of the paragraph with the reference to being a dorky kid though, and I think you are very close.

Andrea, I thought your description was lovely, but it doesn’t tell the reader anything relevant. You might start with the sentence in that second paragraph, “Stefan watched…” because THAT is what the reader wants to know. Later one there is time for description, but in the beginning of the story the reader wants to know what the story is about, what is happening, what to care about. Unless the horses play a major role, they can probably be cut or moved without losing anything.

Hope that helps. 🙂

Here is the first 100-ish of what I’m doing thus far. It’s a dystopian novel, and not complete. Still working on it!

****************************************

My marriage disintegrates over a request for tea. From his point of view, I’m sure there’s more to it. There always is really, but it starts when I slide L-X my scribbled entreaty. His look of disgust. The slammed door. Me left sitting in the kitchenette with the sour-saltiness of breakfast leeching spittle from my gums like a vacuum. Dry and empty of all but a heavy weight in my middle.

It wasn’t the first note. It’s the first time I asked for tea though, so I blame the tea. I blame anything but us.

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Jami Gold January 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

Hi Amy,

Yes, I used to not be able to write short either, but then I had an idea for a story that fit better as a short and the rest is history. 🙂

I like your first sentence a lot, definitely attention-getting. 🙂 The clause “I slide L-X my scribbled entreaty” was a speed bump for me though, and I had to read it several times to understand. I actually wondered if L-X was a typo at first. Maybe it would make sense if I knew this had scifi elements? Or maybe it would be clearer to turn that clause around: “I slide my scribbled entreaty into the L-X.” The meaning of L-X would then be implied and clearer.

The other phrase that tripped me up was “the sour-saltiness of breakfast leeching spittle from my gums like a vacuum.” If that’s accurate to the voice, I’d leave it, but as a new reader, it strikes me as trying too hard. It’s a complicated image to process so early in a story. I’ll admit I might be alone in this, but as a reader, I’d rather be eased into story without having to work at it right up front. And the word choice–sour, salty, leeching, spittle, gums, vacuum–all have negative connotations, so processing that sentence feels like unpleasant work too. But like I said, if that’s accurate to the voice, that might be exactly the kind of reaction you want. 🙂

The great third paragraph does the job of showing a story waiting in the wings. One thing to be aware of is that it makes me expect a women’s fiction-type story, and I’m not sure if that’s what you want. I hope that helps!

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Buffy Armstrong January 6, 2012 at 11:22 am

Jami,
Thanks for another great post! I’m looking foward to the pitch session next week. It should be fun!

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Jami Gold January 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Hi Buffy,

I’m looking forward to it too. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Amy Ashley January 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

Thanks!

Most dystopian is in a futuristic setting, and this one is in a very technology based society. L-X is her husband’s name. The book has a definite sci-fi flavor, so that’s probably not going to be a problem for my readers (just as Galbatorix or Voldemort etc. are fine for fantasy).

The main character is in an extremely bad situation–angry and confused, so the negativity is intentional. She goes through a transformative process in the course of the novel and rebels against the oppressive society she is caught within. This fits within the expectations of a dystopian novel.

I find it interesting you expect a women’s fiction story. It’s a good sign I’m headed in the right direction, because my character’s problems are both personal (an unwanted pregnancy and a failing marriage) and social (a restrictive government and job environment). Some of those are universal female struggles many of us can relate to.

Thanks for the compliments. I’ll think about toning down the breakfast sentence. It may be too much too soon. I’m still working on my first draft for this book, so I’m certain there will be a ton of changes!

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Jami Gold January 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Hi Amy,

Ah, yes, then “L-X” totally threw me as a name. 🙂 Most dystopians I’m familiar with are post-apocalyptic so they’re the “grungy” kind of futuristic, like Mad Max. LOL! Good luck with your story and thanks for the comment!

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Aldrea Alien January 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I’d an inkling it was a name, just wasn’t sure if it’d been the a person or a brand.
If say, “From his point of view, I’m sure there’s more to it.” became … “From L-X’s point of view, I’m sure there’s more to it.” or something like that, it would be a little clearer and that clunky sentence could be tightened to make it clearer still that L-X is her hubby seeing that, without reading all the comments, I’d no clue who or what L-X was. Seriously, I thought it was some sort of datapad.

IMO, the first paragraph is too full of bitter and speaks of backstory to follow which can be a killer.

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Amy Ashley January 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Aldrea, thanks. I’ll take the sentence suggestion into consideration.

There isn’t any backstory at all, but the character is at a very bad point in her life. Beginning the story in the middle of the conflict and horror she lives was the right choice for the book. She’s not a happy person, but she does find resolution.

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Stina Lindenblatt January 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Great post, Jami.

You’re right about the waking up rule. I heard one editor complain half the mss in her slush pile usually begin with someone waking up. Of course if you’re already a published author (as Suzanne was before The Hunger Games), you have more leeway when it comes to bending the rules. Plus she did have a great waking up scene.

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Jami Gold January 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Hi Stina,

Very true. Suzanne Collins already had a successful series before The Hunger Games, and I’d guess that played into much of her plotting decisions (cliffhangers, anyone?). 🙂 But as you said, at least it was a great waking up scene. Thanks for the comment!

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Heather January 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Aw, shoot, I kinda wish I’d completed the YA book I started for NaNo in Nov so I could enter your contest! The first 200 words or so are up on Dianne Salerni’s In High Spirits blog (http://diannesalerni.blogspot.com/2012/01/first-impressions-untitled-ya-but-its.html)

I messed up w/the first sentence, but it’s a pretty easy fix. I’m just glad that people seemed to like it, so it’s kind of inspiration to finish the book someday. But I’m working on getting a historical fiction novel published…afraid I might box myself into adult lit only?

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Jami Gold January 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hi Heather,

I hope you find another opportunity for your YA book. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Murphy January 10, 2012 at 8:03 am

Hi Jami,

Just checking the dashes thing 🙂

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Jami Gold January 10, 2012 at 8:10 am

Ahh, you mean the italics thing. 🙂

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Murphy January 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

Wow! IT WORKED LOL!

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Jami Gold January 10, 2012 at 8:11 am

LOL! Isn’t that how we first met? Me telling you how to do that in Blogger? 🙂

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