Most people, especially children, judge a book by the cover, the back page blurb and the first page. So this week I'm going to give you a few tips to help you make the first page of your children's book stronger.
First Page Check List
When you’ve written your first page, check that:
1) You’ve grabbed your reader’s interest right away.
If you don’t you will lose him/her. A child will glance at the opening paragraph of a book and if it doesn’t appeal to them probably won’t read any further. So don’t waste words describing the sunset. Grab their attention – and hold it.
2) You’ve introduced the Key Character
Within the first couple of sentences you should tell your reader who the Key Character is, making sure you name them, and something about their personality that will instantly attract the reader’s sympathy. Your reader wants to know who the story is about, the name of the Key Character, his/her age, what sort of person he/she is.
3) You’ve set the scene.
Where does your story take place? At home, at school, on a farm, in space? What time of year it is? Is it a weekday, a weekend, a school holiday? Let your reader know as soon as possible so he can place the character in a setting.
4) You’ve introduced the problem.
What is the purpose of the story? What is the character trying to achieve or overcome? Make sure that your reader knows this so he can identify and sympathise with the main character. If a character doesn’t have a problem to solve then you don’t have a story,
5) You’ve set the mood.
What sort of story is it? Funny adventure, scary? This should be clear in the opening paragraph then your reader will know what to expect from your story and get in the right mood to read it.
6) You’ve hinted at the conflict.
What is stopping the main character solving his problem? Make sure that the reader is aware of the conflict and the consequences of it not being resolved.
7) You’ve hinted at the solution.
At the beginning, the problem shouldn’t seem insurmountable, just difficult. It is only as the story develops and the Key Character faces other obstacles that the problem seems to become insurmountable.
Try writing your opening paragraph in first person viewpoint then third. Which one do you think works best? You might find that you write in a completley different way when you change viewpoint and that your story flows smoother.
If you're writing a children's story you'll find more useful tips in my book, GET WRITING: CHILDREN'S FICTION.
Available from Amazon ,Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and other book stores. If you'd like info about one of my courses, or my manuscript critique service - for both children's fiction and adult fiction - then contact me.