The first 250 words in your manuscript are important, and I’m having a heck of a time nailing it. But, I’m not one to stay down long. Here’s attempt 49…or 50…or 60…
The opening page, or in essence the first 250 chances us authors get to prove to readers we know what we’re doing, is critical. Through my revisions I’ve learned the following things
- Make sure your writing gets readers to ask a question?
- Why is this happening?
- Who is following them?
- What is the deal with…?
- Avoid cliches at all costs.
- Don’t have your character look in the mirror, check the date, analyze the weather, etc.
- Is the character in the moment?
- Leave the backstory and flowery details for later. We don’t necessarily need to know what he/she/it looks like either. Avoid starting with a dream.
- Start with something in process. Give the reader a feeling that something is about to happen, and it might not be in the best interest of the protagonist.
- Develop your character.
- Give the reader an idea of who they are going to be spending the next few hours hanging out with.
Critiques/Feedback from Round 2:
1. Add the part about the “intervention,” it creates conflict.
2. Get rid of the school report details, these words take up valuable space.
3. Be careful about the cliche of starting a story in a car. (I couldn’t address this one)
4. When talking about the “intervention” make sure to show that Sarah is sad instead of telling the reader she is sad. (I need to reread my post on Showing vs. Telling-this writing gig is hard work.)
Under Western Skies…Round 3
When Sarah’s long-time boyfriend meets a tragic end she is left with a ring box, but no ring. Despite ten months without him, Sarah remains faithful, until a green-eyed surfer threatens to challenge her devotion.
Chapter 1: You Should Be Here
I’d been waiting for this moment since my fifth grade report on California. My stomach fluttered around the peanuts I’d eaten earlier on the plane as my heart thudded rapidly against my chest.
“It’ll be a minute,” Brian said, noticing my tapping foot.
I made an effort to steady my leg. “Sorry,” I said. It had been a long time since I’d looked forward to anything.
The last ten months had sucked the life out of me. I knew I need to take steps to get better, but I hadn’t anticipated my family throwing an intervention on Christmas Eve. Eight days after opening the beach towel from my parents, I was on the plane to San Luis Obispo, CA.
Brian, my oldest cousin had been in on my emotional hiatus. He was going to school in the college town that would be my new home, and got the lucky job of being my chaperone for the next six months.
Despite the disappointment I felt about being sent from Wyoming, I was still excited to see the ocean for the first time. With each bend in the canyon road I expected it to come into view, but after rounding each bend my heart would sink. It wasn’t until we reached the top of the canyon that it appeared, springing into view like a gigantic, blue, jack-in-the box. Even though I’d been expecting it, the sight of the endless blue landscape took my breath away.
“So, what do you think?” Brian asked.
I brought both hands to the window, awestruck as wave after wave beat against the cliffs below.