Post: Answers that readers need on your first page

first page

There’s a saying in the publishing industry that the last page of a book sells the next book. If you think about it, there’s truth to the statement. Just as important, however, is attracting attention and drawing a reader into the first page of your fiction story. After all, if readers don’t like what they see on the first page, they’ll never turn to the second, and, therefore, will never reach the last page in the book. 

To entice readers to keep going with a story, you’ll want to provide some important information and details on the first page. There are several questions to keep in mind. Answering these questions at the start of your book increases the likelihood that people will want to keep reading.  

Incorporate answers to these questions on the first page of your book

More than one of the questions shown in the following list will probably apply to your fiction story, which is why you’ll want to provide answers for your readers before they reach the last word on the first page:

  1. Who and what is your story about?
  2. Where and when is the story taking place?
  3. Is there more to the story than meets the eye—a back story?
  4. Why are your characters worth caring about? 

In some cases, you might determine that some of these questions shouldn’t be answered until later, such as in a mystery. However, in most cases, authors will want to provide at least basic information that is relevant to most of these questions before readers turn the first page. Answers to these questions form the basis for what lies ahead and should be written in such a way that makes readers want to find out.

Styles for starting a story

As you figure out how you want to present the information on your first page, you must determine a style for your story’s beginning. For example, do you want to begin with an anecdote that involves some of the main characters? Another option is to hold readers in suspense right from the start. On the other hand, you might want to begin by making readers laugh or creating a sense of intrigue.

The possibilities are many, and every author must decide which dynamic is most fitting for the overall style of a specific story. If you’re new to the fiction industry, you might want to experiment by writing various types of “first pages” to get a feel for it. In fact, try writing several “first pages” for the same story and ask friends and family to read them and provide feedback. Remember, your first page is a marketing tool that sells the rest of your book.