Advice on First Pages

I love this quote from John Irving — When in doubt, or wherever possible, tell the whole story of the novel in the first sentence.

Are you stuck on the first page of your story, unsure of how to proceed? I’m going to give you some advice that may seem odd: write your first page after you have finished your story or book.

Radical? Perhaps. But writers often don’t know what they are writing about until the book is almost finished. One of the requirements of a good first page is that it must point the reader in the direction the story will take. If you haven’t developed your novel or memoir completely, you just might miss something you really need on that first page.

Write the first page as a rough draft and then move on. As you continue writing, jot down notes about possible scenes or foreshadowing you could include in your first pages. Steal some ideas from your favorite books. Keep that first page simmering on your back burner. And when you have completed your book, go back and polish it until it shines.



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