Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Two Pages


The letter F is for the First Two Pages (of your manuscript).

In October 2010, I attended two of Suzie Townsend's (awesome literary agent) classes at a writers' conference, and I gained insight and ideas from each of them. Loved them.

First, she offered a Workshop Class on how to make your first two pages really stand out from the slush. Here are my notes:

As soon as possible:
1. Establish your character and voice
2. Establish the conflict and move the story forward
3. Establish the tone
4. Establish an indication of setting
5. Catch the reader off guard - to grab them and keep them reading

Goals of first two pages:
1. Create interest in the character and the plot
2. Create intrigue
3. Create investment

Anticipate the pauses when someone is reading and make these your paragraph breaks.

Then she read many pages from participants and critiqued them. Imagine American Idol. (But Suzie is SUPER NICE, unlike Simon.) That was very productive.

What tips do you have for making the first two pages fantastic?


  1. I think those tips are great. I think it has to be dramatic right from the start.

    I still prefer Simon Cowell and think the current season of American Idol without him is rubbish!

    Duncan In Kuantan

  2. Thanks for the tips, I have nothing to add. I disagree with Duncan. I love this season of Idol mostly because of the amazing talent but also because he is not there. I find nothing charming about being a prick.

  3. Great tips! A tip from me...

    1. The first sentence should mean something, foreshadow what's coming and make readers ask the right questions.

    2. The first sentence should serve as mini conflict.

    Good luck with the challenge!

  4. Great tips and, that's a lot to accomplish in two pages!

  5. Great tips to keep in mind. Definitely a bookmark link. Thanks!

  6. I've noticed with children's writers workshops that the editors like to offer free critiques as part of the workshop, as well as use what they received during the workshop. I don't recall that from my RWA days, but maybe it's a new thing industry-wide. I like it, although I still prefer the "pitch sessions" RWA chapters provide at workshops to "paid critiques."

  7. This is great!!! Thanks so much for sharing these tips. I'll definitely be taking a closer look at my first pages with this in mind :)

  8. Wonderful tips! I need to get busy on my first two pages. This post made me want to go write.

  9. Great tips! Too bad they're all easier said than done, right lol!

  10. I loved those workshops, too. Learned a lot! Suzie is awesome (total fangirl right here!). Margo had to practically hold me down I was so excited!

  11. Awesome tips! When I attended a first page critique at the James River Writers conference, the agents gave some pointers, too, such as:
    Don't have your character wake up.
    Don't start out with a dream sequence.
    Don't info dump/too much back story.
    Don't over-describe things.

  12. Suzie is super nice. She gave me the nicest rejection letter I've ever seen. I actually didn't even feel rejected.

  13. Awesome post. Thank you for sharing. I am planning to study the first chapters of as many bestselling authors that I can find and see if I can get the magic formula. But your tips already helped me out. Thank you.

  14. Thanks so much for the great post. The other thing I heard from an author is craft your first 2 pages to be the best they can be, and then make the rest of the novel as good! Tall order. Thanks for the great information.

  15. I haven't a single tip to offer. I am at the soaking up all the tips I can find stage. Thanks for these.

  16. These are great tips. The whole article is very helpful.


  17. Those are great tips. I can't really think of anything to add. =)

  18. Great tips! It's very important to grab the reader's attention right away.

  19. Great info. Sounds like the classes were well worth it. =D

  20. These are fantastic tips! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Excellent tips! Thanks for sharing. :-)