Submissions invited: If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.
The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.
Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.
What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below.
A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.
Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.
Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.
- Story questions
- Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
Tracey has sent chapter 1 of Float.
"Cupid, I do not understand you."
Cupid lifted his chin and stretched his spine to appear taller than his 5.6 inches. The minor god of love—minor meaning he was stuck pounding his skull against the stone corporate ceiling with the other minor level gods in the Mount Olympus temple bureaucracy—wanted to present a more regal appearance to his Aunt Hera. Hera was Zeus's wife and the Goddess-CEO of the entire corporation that comprised Mount Olympus, Inc. Hera was into appearances.
Hera didn't notice Cupid's posture, however. She was immersed in her desktop computer, clicking through screens. When she wasn't looking at her computer, she was tapping and swiping the front of her phone. When the phone became boring, she was peering down her aquiline nose at her tablet computer, which rested next to her elbow on her glass desk.
In fact, Hera had been distracted by electronic devices during their entire meeting.
Cupid began, "Aunt Hera—"
She cut him off. "I do not understand how you are valuable to Mount Olympus. Do you even have a Facebook profile, Cupid?"
"Yes, of course. I have a profile, Aunt Hera. You and I are friends."
She tapped her long nails on the keyboard in front of her. "I never see your posts or your pictures, nephew. Hermes—now there's a minor god who keeps up with his social media!"
Once again a delightful voice pulled me on. And this fun introduction to a new slant on the gods promises more fun to come. The “but” is this—I could use a little less telling of who is what and a little more of what this meeting means to Cupid—does he have a problem? Is he anticipating trouble? What does he need? We need at least one story question on this page.
I really don't have much in the way of notes, and I'm rushing out of here to drive 5 hours to make my appearances at the Woodstock Festival in Portland, OR.
For what it’s worth.
Submitting to the Flogometer:
Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):
- your title
- your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
- Please format with double spacing, 12-point font Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins.
- Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
- And, optionally, permission to use it as an example in a book if that's okay.
- If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
- If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.
© 2012 Ray Rhamey