Page one – what to include?

cropped-wordle.jpgAs my agent reminded me, a first page has to do so many things, e.g. set the time and place, introduce the main character, set up their motivations/dreams/desires, start the action, allude to where the book is going, etc. It’s one of the hardest things to do, although thankfully it’s possible to do the best revision of the first few pages at the end of the writing process, when you can pull everything together. There are some useful tools to help.

For instance, this page by C.S. Lakin from provides a helpful checklist of all the things you need to include. Here is the entire checklist:

First Page Checklist
____ Opening Hook: Clever writing and image that grabs the reader
____ Introduction of main character in first few lines
____ Starting the story in the middle of something that’s happened (or happening)
____ A nod to setting; avoid excessive exposition or narrative
____ A catalyst, inciting incident, or complication introduced for your character
____ A hint at character’s immediate intentions
____ A hint at character’s hidden need, desire, goal, dream, fear
____ Unique voice/writing style
____Setting the tone for the entire book
____ A glimpse at character’s personal history, personality—shed light on motivation
____ Introduction of plot goal
____ A course of action/decision implied: introduction of high stakes/dramatic tension
____ Pacing: jump right into present action. No back story
Think of:
• One characteristic to reveal that makes your character heroic and vulnerable
• One element of mystery, something hinted at that raises curiosity
• One element out of the ordinary, unusual, that makes your book different/stand out
• Concise, catchy dialogue (if in the first scene) that is not boring or predictable
• A way to hint at your theme, if you have one

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