Tag Archive - first page elements

Your First 50 Pages—Pass or Fail?

The first fifty pages of your novel carry the heaviest burden for your story. The opening chapters are all about setup. Setup of characters, premise, tone, writing style, conflict, stakes, world/setting, and so much more.

Thousands of writers across the US are finishing a novel today—or at least trying to. For some committed to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), this was a first effort. Others have participated many times and have cranked out the semblance of a novel each of those years.

I imagine a lot of writers who signed up didn’t reach the finish line of 50,000 words. I recall how hard it was, writing my first novel thirty years ago. It took me almost a year, and I thought it was a masterpiece.

How wrong I was. Continue Reading…

Wrapping Up Our Look at Best Seller First Pages

Sadly, I’m bringing this look at first pages to an end—at least for now. It’s been an intriguing journey looking into these twenty-six first pages of best sellers. Along with many readers of this blog, I was also surprised to see quite a few of the traditional “rules” of good scene structure broken—especially by highly successful authors.

Here are some of the observations I made, shared by numerous commenters. And I’ll reiterate a few salient points that I feel bear repeating about strong openings.

What’s a Super Author Required to Do?

First off—just because a super-author like Stephen King or John Grisham can get away with writing a boring first page featuring a blah character, that doesn’t mean other authors should copy them.

Whether such authors don’t bother or care to work harder to craft a great opening, or they’re way too busy signing books for adoring fans around the world, or they’re under too much deadline pressure, there’s no way to really know. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: The Sword of Summer

For our final post that looks at best-seller first pages, we’re going to take a look at one of Rick Riordan’s Middle Grade novels. Riordan’s novels are hugely popular, playing off mythology. His new series, starting with The Sword of Summer, delves into Norse legends. I know some of you are going to be sad that I’m stopping this series, but I may come back to this later in the year.

I find the cover and title page confusing, because “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard” are in huge letters, implying this is the novel’s title. But “The Sword of Summer” is in smaller lettering at the bottom as well as on the header inside the book. The large phrase seems to be the series title.

Riordan’s stories are fun, effervescent romps with lots of heroes and action and humor. Just the right recipe for young readers looking for escape from math homework.

We looked at literary best sellers that require readers to basically suffer and work hard to enjoy the story, as if that gives the author Brownie points. Continue Reading…

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