RB: The First Page

Writing the first page of a novel is scary. After six novels it hasn’t gotten any easier. It stares at you with its blankness, demanding you to fill it with witty, insightful, attention-getting words. The first page is the most important. It will gain you readers or turn people off your work FOREVER.

I spent months pre-writing and getting to know my characters inside and out. I learned and researched the setting until it felt like I was already living there. I imagined my fingers would fly so fast over the keyboard that I’d create wind which would blow my hair back like I was some super-author. (Snap photo here, please.) But it didn’t happen. Besides wondering what words I should start with, other thoughts run through my head. This first draft is going to suck. Who are you kidding, you can’t write. You have a million other things to do right now. You’re at work; you should actually be working unless you’d like to get fired. You do not have the time to fill your three-page quota right now. (Three pages, ha! It might as well be 3,000 pages.) You aren’t clever. No one will want to read it.

I normally stare at the blank page for ten minutes while the evil, non-reading devil standing on my shoulder spouts rude and hurtful things at me. Then I smack him off, laugh gleefully as he hits the floor with a loud thud, and begin to type. It’s great for a few minutes, just like I’d imagined it would be, my fingers have reached maximum speed and are lifting off. Then I take a pause, re-read what I just wrote, and hold down the delete key because my first few lines actually do suck.

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