Sunday, April 1, 2012

Getting Published: Your First Page

Have you ever sent a story to a magazine or book publisher hoping to get published? Whether you've done that yet or not, you should know there are certain things editors look for on your very first page. If you can hook them there, they'll keep reading - and possibly fall in love with your story.

So what are some of the magical elements editors like to see on a first page? Read on!
1. Action. 
Action doesn't just mean jumping off cliffs or fighting vampires. It also means getting right into the story. So if you've got a tale about a kid cheating on a math test, that's a great place to start. The opposite of action: background. Editors aren't overly excited about stories that start off with tons of information about what characters did in the past that will lead up to the action.

2. Action that moves the story.
Editors like to see more than one event take place on the first page. For example, they don't want to read a whole page about someone waking up for the day. They'd rather learn the person woke up and maybe looked out the window at something strange. Or checked their email and got an interesting message. By the end of the first page, the story should be moving forward.

3. Unusual Ideas.
Realistic stories often have familiar elements. They might be set in the usual home or school environment, for example. But editors also like to see there's something different about your story that makes it stand out from the crowd. So if your main character goes to, say, a school for skiers, that's a good detail to mention right away.

4. Main characters.
If you're going to mention multiple characters on the first page, they should be characters who will play pretty big roles in the rest of the story. Otherwise, they don't really deserve first page billing. Just don't introduce too many characters at once. That can get confusing.

5. Appealing main characters.
A lot of stories revolve around kids who feel they're unpopular. Or who have major attitude. Or who complain about how bored they are. These might be great characters as your story develops. But they can't just be losers, snobs or annoying complainers. They should be likable, too, right from the first page. That way, the editor will root for your characters and keep reading.

And that's the goal of your first page. Hook readers and keep them reading through to the very last page!

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