First Page Jitters… and a Model of Excellence

On Day One of any writing class you’re likely to be reminded how important your first page is.

I once participated in a panel discussion with an agent who claimed he could tell if he wanted to represent a book after reading only the first page. For the record, I heartily disagreed with the veracity of that claim (as did Terry Brooks, also on the panel), because about the only thing one can tell for sure from a first page is the level and appeal of the writer’s voice, leaving at least eleven other major categories of story criteria that absolutely cannot be discerned from a first page, by anyone.

That said, the first page has one primary mission: to motivate the reader to keep reading.

It’s a form of hook — more accurately, a hook for the hook — but that’s not even a fully accurate description. The highest function and goal of a first page… again… is to make the reader keep reading.

To see this in action, click HERE.

It’s from another blog called The Kill Zone, where I post every other week.   I also do an occasional “First Page Critique” for them, and this is just that, an author’s first page subjected to the harsh light of analysis.

I’d like you to see this for two reasons.

First… it’s stellar. Instead of modeling mistakes and weakness, this page is a shining example of a killer first page that met the goal.

And then, even so, there were ways to strengthen it.

In addition to my short analysis, also read the comments (especially the one by James Scott Bell) that add further feedback. Every single commenter shared the same conclusion… this one is a winner.



Travel Update: beginning next Wednesday, I’ll be away for three weeks, returning the week of October 26.  I will have a few new posts appearing during that span of time, including a few guest posts, so please tune in.

Re: All things Story Coaching…

… if you are on the cusp of pulling the trigger on a new story coaching project with me, know that I cannot respond until the week of October 26. Feel free to opt in (only for the Kick Start Concept/Premise Review; other levels will need to wait until I get back). To help you get a jump start on that, you can get your Questionnaire right here — Quick-Hit QUESTIONNAIRE  — and the Welcome Letter here: Quick-Hit WELCOME LETTER.

Upon my return I’ll pair up notice of your payment with your submitted Questionnaire answers, and get back to you shortly.  Or, you can wait until my return to submit your answers… or to sign up in the first place.

If you aren’t sure, this is a chance to preview the Questionnaire and the Welcome Letter, which itself is a massive source of content via a dozen or so links to key tutorials.

I’m going to France to celebrate our 20th anniversary with my wife, Laura, visiting Burgundy, the Loire Valley and then Paris! 

Bon Voyage! 



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2 Responses to First Page Jitters… and a Model of Excellence

  1. I commented on The Kill Zone. The page was very intriguing. Have a fabulous vacation and happy anniversary! Spoil your precious wife!

  2. Happy Anniversary! Fly high. Be safe. Enjoy.