The first page is your chance to win your reader’s attention.
In the short amount of time it takes to read the first page, most have already decided whether they will continue further. That’s a lot of pressure for a few sentences. But they have a job to do, which is to propel the reader through the balance of the story.
The first page should introduce the main character as well as present the inciting incident. It must punch us in the face, and draw us right into the fight, round after round until we reach the words, ‘The End’.
Here’s a few ways to do that:
Grab the reader’s attention by starting with the action and explain it later.
That’s right, just drop us in the middle of the boxing match with gloves flying, the main character fiercely dodging elimination from his worthy opponent. Later you can explain why he needed to win so badly. Gambling debt, blackmail, sick mama? Take your pick.
Another example is Stephen King’s Needful Things. The first page is actually one line, on one page.
You’ve been here before.
That’s all you get. And it does exactly what it is supposed to do, draw you in by leaving you wondering the what, where, when, and how, setting the stage for the story. You want to be brief, forceful, but clear. Maybe not as brief as Stephen King in Needful Things, but I think you get the drift.
You wanna hit me with your best shot? Well, here’s your chance.
Malice in Memphis is sponsoring a contest on, you guessed it, the first page.
Hit Me with Your Best Shot is your chance to win cash and a chance at publication in one of Malice’s future anthologies. We are offering a first, second, and third place prize package for your best opening page of 500 words or less. Malice will cull the entries for final judging by our publisher, Allan Gilbreath, Founder and Managing Editor of Dark Oak Press.
So grab your work in progress or start something new, but polish that baby on up and send it to us with your $10 entry fee, and maybe you’ll walk away with $100 in cash and the possibility of a published story for your effort.
Find out the rules and entry information here: https://www.maliceinmemphis.com/hit-me-with-your-best-shot-contest.html
Kristi Bradley, President
Malice in Memphis Mystery Writers Group