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065I – The First Five Pages: An Interview with Laura Drake

Explicit Warning for this episode

Award-winning author Laura Drake shares with us what she's learned about making the first five pages of your novel the absolute best they can be from her years working with an editor in traditional publishing. She's currently writing for Grand Central.

Among the tips she offers:

  • People come to books for the characters
  • Great plots without great characters might have remained unsold books
  • Hint at the character's backstory just enough so it raises questions in the reader's mind
  • Hint at the character himself so that readers begin to care right away – who is he, what does he want, and why should we care about what he cares about?
  • Start the first chapter as late as you can into the story you're telling
  • Opening lines are very important! Go read some of the best ones and learn from them (NOTE: Laura reads an opening line that includes the F-word several times; you may want to listen to this episode when small children aren't present)
  • The key to backstory isn't mechanical; it's visceral

Laura has kindly offered to give listeners an “opening checklist” she created and uses herself. Please email her from her website at LauraDrakeBooks.com. You can also follow Laura on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and Blogger by clicking on the buttons on her website.


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