Writers, send your prologue/first chapter to FtQ for a “flogging” critique. Email as an attachment.
Many of the folks who utilize BookBub are self-published, and because we hear over and over the need for self-published authors to have their work edited, it’s educational to take a hard look at their first pages. A poll follows concerning the need for an editor.
When you evaluate today’s opening page, consider how well it uses elements from the checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling.
Donald Maass, literary agent and author of many books on writing, says, “Independent editor Ray Rhamey’s first-page checklist is an excellent yardstick for measuring what makes openings interesting.”
A First-page Checklist
- It begins to engage the reader with the character
- Something is wrong/goes wrong or challenges the character
- The character desires something.
- The character takes action. Can be internal or external action: thoughts, deeds, emotions. This does NOT include musing about whatever.
- There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
- It happens in the NOW of the story.
- Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
- Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
- The one thing it must do: raise a story question.
Life-changing moments are sneaky little bastards. Often we don’t even know that nothing will ever be the same until long after, and only in hindsight can we look and say, “There! That was it! That changed everything.”
Well, at least we could, if we’re alive to do it.
For me, it was just another Thursday evening on a blustery spring day. I was finishing up a Japanese-to-English translation job and only somewhat pretending to mind the register in my comic and game shop. That’s the benefit of being the owner, I suppose. No one was going to tell me to be cheerful and pay attention to customers.
There weren’t any, anyway. Thursday nights are game night and we close early. I hadn’t flipped the sign yet as I was waiting on Harper, my best friend of the last four years, to stop swearing at her game of StarCraft.
“No amount of Banelings in the world are going to save you here,” I said, glancing over at her screen.
“Marines are overpowered,” she growled.
“Sure,” I said, trying not to laugh. It was an old gripe. Whatever race her opponent played in the game was always OP, according to the logic of Harper. “Maybe you should play with a mouse instead of just your trackpad?”
You can turn the page and read more here. Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This paranormal story earned 4.1 stars on Amazon. I’m a sucker for fantasy and a sassy female protagonist, so I thought I’d give this a look. I found the voice engaging and the writing clean. The opening paragraph makes an attempt to foreshadow something significant coming up, but then the narrative abandons all efforts at creating suspense to go into setup flavored with a little backstory. Story questions? What is the unidentified life-changing moment? Not good enough. Stakes/consequences of said moment? None identified. Something goes wrong for the protagonist? No. A problem that needs to be dealt with? None.
Page turn? None. Your thoughts?
My books. You can read sample chapters and learn more about the books here.
Writing Craft Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling
Fantasy</strong >(satire) The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles
Mystery</strong >(coming of age) The Summer Boy
Science Fiction Hiding Magic
Science Fiction GundownFree ebooks.