Saturday, April 21, 2012

First pages: Rubin Pfeffer and Andrea Welch

First pages sessions are a special kind of excitement for participants. Will my page be read? Will I survive with my ego intact? Eek!

East West Literary Agent Rubin Pfeffer and Beach Lane Books Senior Editor Andrea Welch listened to a slew of picture book first pages and gave quick and thoughtful feedback:

  • Whether the voice rang true; 
  • Whether the story was short enough to fit the format; 
  • Whether the details worked. For example, don't try to hook a reader with gross details. Hook them with story and character.

"I like the idea of eating unicorns," Andrea Welch said about one entry.

Some useful tips:

  • Go light on description to leave room for illustrators.
  • Get to the story quickly. You have to know where it's going on the first page. 
  • Don't overwrite. Keep it short, snappy, and narrative (because long bits of dialogue are hard to read aloud). 
  • If you're writing in rhyme, don't repeat words. 
  • Choose an original topic (lots of books about wanting a pet, for example).
  • Introduce controversy on the first page. 
  • Target it appropriately for the age of the reader. 

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