Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beyond Perfecting The First Page

Many of us writers work so hard on our first page that we know most of it by heart. It's our first impression so we have done our best to make it a good one. We probably have workshopped it, had it critiqued by agents and/or editors at conferences, and had our critique partners or beta readers go over it until they never wanted to see it again. Chances are we've cut, added, and edited it until our eyes felt like they were going to bleed. But what about the rest of the novel?

That's right. Get the visine out, add an extra pillow to your chair, and limber up those wrists because your editing work has only begun with the first page. If you have polished that page like I'm certain you have then it is likely brilliant. But what if an agent or an editor asks for a partial or a full of your manuscript? What will they find on page two, page 10, or even page 100? You must think beyond that first page and prepare to work just as hard on the rest of the novel.

Once you've gone through the entire novel with as much care and precision as you have the first page, then you have something that is ready to submit. The brilliance of the first page must echo on through the novel. Come chat with us live this Thursday at 6:00pm pacific time on Twitter for the Writer's Road chat where we'll discuss this in depth. Click for a link here and then type in WritersRoad. We hope to see you there!



  1. Excellent points, Heather. I am so sad I won't be able to chat with you tomorrow night! Will check out all the tweets after I get back from my meeting, though. I know they will be good, and people will have great suggestions.

  2. This advice is golden. I’m pretty sure that I COULD recite my opening chapter by heart if asked! Now the challenge is to make every word that follows just as memorable.

  3. Linda, thanks! We'll miss you but don't worry, I understand!

    Lindsey, thank you. That's exactly what it's all about, making each word that follows just as memorable. Well said!

  4. Heather this is excellent advice. We hear so much about that first page, the others get forgotten. I absolutely love your chats. I'm so sorry I'll be in a meeting this week. But say hello to everyone for me.

  5. Oh, you are so right, Heather. Every writer should know this. Luckily I am such a perfectionist I try my hardest to keep the quality through the whole ms.

    That's why I am still editing my first novel for over a year, I am hoping this will be the final. Although it is going to a crit partner and who knows if I have to tweak it one final time. EEEK!

    Have you ever just wanted to burn an ms you've edited over 50 times?


  6. Karlene, thank you, and no problem! I'm just hoping I can handle the chat on my Droid since I won't have my computer!

    Michael, that's excellent! You're already well on your path to a great manuscript it sounds like! I must admit, there is one manuscript that I have wanted to burn after numerous edits!

  7. Ive been thinking about this and I'm hard at work trying to do it. The time needed is frustrating, but it's necessary if you want the best chance at publication. Hopefully, my next novel attempt will go a wee bit

  8. Bravo to you June! You're right, it is really hard to give them entire novel the same attention as the first page. But in the end it's so worth it!