First Page woes


I am deep in the workings of my WIP, and have gone back and re-written my first chapter multiple times. This is part of my process, and I thought it may be helpful to discuss with others out in the ether.

I always *think* I know where my books will end up when I start writing, but by the end, I will invariably have veered off the rails. This is why I am a loose outliner. Because of this, I often go back and rewrite my beginning AFTER I write the end of the book.

So, it equally drives me bonkers and amazes me when I am at a writing conference, and people are reading and critiquing first pages, and put all this work into it, JUST TO CHANGE IT LATER. Ye gods! I know I will spruce up the beginning in preparation for a writing retreat or slush pile reading, but I know the people who ALWAYS bring the beginnings of the SAME works year after year. As John Hartness says, “A 95 is still an A grade.” Finish the story, then move on.

I also think a lot of writers struggle with what to put on the first page. I have heard several famous authors state the entire conflict in the book must be on the first page, certainly by page three. Again, I think a lot of writers struggle with this, and I think it depends on genre conventions. I personally feel the first chapter is fair game to set up some establishing shots, but as an example, James Bond never meets his enemy in the first scene, but that scene always has something to do with character establishment, reader grounding, or plot.

So, I remind myself of the advice I have given here, and will stop going back and  redoing the first bits of the book until I am satisfied with the climactic scene of my work. Then I will truly know what the stakes are about, and can make a proper introduction to the work.

Until next time,


1 thought on “First Page woes

  1. From a querying/submitting point of view, there is so much emphasis put on that first page, or first 10 pages, or first chapter, because that might be all you get. You will (pretty quickly I might add) also reach a point of diminishing returns.
    I agree with John, 95% is still an A grade. Make sure that your first few pages do their job, and then move on. Which is sometimes easier said than done.


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