You have a masterpiece in hand. You wrote it for months on end, maybe even years, and now you’re super excited about getting your work out there. However, you’re afraid… And you should be.
It doesn’t matter how wonderful your book is. If no one will read it, what’s the point, right? Just a tip: the first page is critical to the success of your book, so it must be impactful.
What makes people look at it?
Most people will open a book and read the first paragraph, maybe the full first page if you’re lucky. You have to use it in your favor.
When you open a book, you usually want to know what the story is about and how it’ll be told. So, the first page has to do exactly that. You can’t tell the whole story, obviously, what you should do is lead your readers to peek through a window and catch a glimpse of your story, get a slight idea for what’s going on and become curious. If they want to enter the place, you’ve done a good job.
A novel’s first page has many functions
The first page has to make your reader curious enough to keep on reading, and for that, they need two essential pieces of information: who the protagonist is and what the conflict is about. So, you need to relay this information, without revealing too much and make a good impression.
The protagonist entrance should, most of the time, be done here and should be memorable. Something about him or her has to have an impact on your readers. As a writer, you have to keep in mind, that whatever you choose to show, is critical for the impact the rest of the book will have and the way your readers will look at the story.
So, you should put yourself in your reader’s shoes and think of what would be really annoying on a first page. Then, try your hardest to avoid doing any of the things that would lead to you writing a similar thing! The first situation to have happen in your novel must be interesting enough to make them want to move onwards to page 2.
So, you should give some context to your readers. Don’t need to tell everything, just enough to make them curious. A novel is about conflict, they should have some clue in the first page as to build a notion of that conflict, through action, dialogue or interior monologue, but it must say “there is something here that might go wrong…”
An action-filled scene suddenly interrupted by another one where, someone, somewhere, somehow related to the protagonist present on the first scene, is calm and peaceful, doing something that apparently has nothing to do with the first scene, might do the trick. “What is happening here?” is the question you want your readers to ask themselves so they keep turning the pages. Meanwhile, they’re creating a movie in their heads, brimming with possibilities. You must feed that movie carefully, not too quickly nor too slowly, so they keep reading.
What do you need for a good start?
You need to begin. The start of it all. This is always the most complicated part of a project, no matter which one we’re talking about. In case of a book, the beginning doesn’t need to be the first thing to write, never let yourself forget that. Just write your story, make it as perfect as you can and eventually you’ll find a great beginning to your tale. I assure you that makes things easier.
Another common mistake that leads the writers in the wrong direction is thinking of the beginning of a story as an introduction to it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be that way. The reader doesn’t need to know everything on the first page, just enough to make them curious enough to explore more. You can choose an interesting point of the story and start there, without any explanation. You can start with a dialogue, a problem, a conflict… Think outside the box. Be creative! This will provide you with an undoubtedly interesting start to your amazing story.