Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Writing Wednesday - First Page

In my critique group we've spent some time talking about and discussing what makes a good first page. In Writer's Digest this month there was on article on what agents hate in Chapter One. Of course they have to get past page one in order to read all of the first chapter. What it comes down to is that not only does the first chapter have to be good - but the first page has to grab the reader.

So here's a little test. Here's the current first page from my historical YA work in progress. Would it make you want to read more?
Chapter 1

“Do you think they have new fashion dolls?” Polly asked, running forward to get a better glimpse of the approaching ships.

I breathed deeply of the salty, fishy air and watched, feeling my stomach tighten. These were not ships delivering goods.

“Molasses!” Patience jumped up and down and clapped her hands.

“No.” I shielded my eyes to watch the ships form a ring around Boston and then drop their sails. Instead of a lovely row of billowing sails against the horizon, we now had a well regulated line of ships surrounding the port. War ships.

“I didn’t think they’d really do it,” Susannah said.

I tucked a flyaway strand of hair back into my bonnet, that sinking feeling wouldn’t leave my stomach. I tore my eyes away from the forest of riggings out in the harbor and looked at my best friend. “We best get the children home.”

Our younger sisters were still discussing the many goodies that could be aboard one of those ships. Susannah continued to look into the harbor. “Do you think they’ll stay long?”

“Only until we pay for the tea.”

“Papa says we’ll never pay for that tea.” Susannah grabbed five-year-old Patience by the hand and turned toward home.

“Then they’ll be there for a long time.”

I signaled to Polly to come and we left Long Wharf, through the crowd that had assembled, and toward home.

Patience tugged on Susannah’s hand. “I want an ice,” she said.

Susannah stuck her hand in her pocket “I don’t have any money with me.”

“I have a shilling,” I said, and felt in my own pocket to make sure it was true. My fingers wrapped around the small silver piece that Da had given me for helping in his apothecary shop.

*all content copyright Christine Marciniak


Bill said...

I think a little more feeling of apprehension as to what was going to happen. These were British Men of War. A young woman seeing these looming gun ships must have been very uneasy. Put yourself out on that wharf and feel what it would be like to see that. Your world as you know it is about to come to an end. You can't know that at this point, but there has to be some fear.

Christine M said...

You're right. Apprehension should be there too. Thanks Dad!

PJ Hoover said...

Wow, Dad gave you good advice!
But of course I'd read on!

beth said...

Yeah, go Dad!

One thing I really learned at my conference was that the end of the page should end with something of a question--what happens next? This adds to the apprehension thing, but in a bit of a different way.