Monday, April 9, 2012

7 What Do You Ask Yourself When Writing or Reading the 1st 5 Pages of a Novel?

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend.

The entries for the First Five Pages Workshop are posted below. Please help us all learn from each other by reading and commenting respectfully and constructively on what you like and what you don't like.  As writers we must all be analytical readers as well, so the following questions are just a few things to consider not only when you are reading these pages but also pages you are writing and books you are reading.

  • Are  you hooked? Why or why not?
  • Do you love the voice? Why or why not?
  • Do you love the characters. Why or why not?
  • Is the action clear?
  • Does the action move quickly enough? Too quickly?
  • Does this feel like the writer is starting in the right place?
  • Based on what you are reading, what do you expect will happen in the story?
  • What kind of a story do you think this will be?
  • Do you feel like you know what you need to know or are you confused? Have you been told too much?
  • Is there enough foreshadowing? Too much?
  • Is there too much backstory?
  • Is the primary action shown or told, and is the balance of showing vs. telling okay in general?
  • What is the tone?
  • The mood?
  • Do you have any ideas about theme?
  • Does the setting come through clearly enough?
  • Are there enough grounding details to make the story feel real and alive?
  • Is there enough introspection and connection to the main character? Too much?
  • Is there enough dialogue? Too much?
  • Is the POV clear and consistent, or does it jump around?
  • Are the language, syntax, and technical aspects of the writing of publishable quality and appropriate to the age group and sophistication of the intended audience? Would they limit the audience in any way?
Can you think of any other general questions that you consider when you're evaluating the opening of a story?

Happy reading and thanks so much for your help with the workshop entries!

Martina and Lisa


  1. Thanks for the suggestions on what to comment on!

    Sorry about my formatting errors!

    1. No worries. It just takes time to correct them, and 24 hours only stretch so far. I'm still trying to figure out how to add an hour or two on the tail end. :D

  2. All these questions are what make writing first 5 pages so hard!!!

    1. I know, right? It's why the first five are the ones I angst over and angst over and rewrite ad nauseum long after the rest of the book is done. Le sigh.

  3. This was a definite bookmark because this can apply with doing the 1st five that are posted here and for directing crits with other works I'm able to assist with.

    1. Glad it was helpful Angela! Chime in if you can think of any questions to add. This is one of those things that we all struggle with.

  4. I just found your blog. I agree these elements are very difficult to pin down in our/my own writing. It's always clearer in someone elses :)


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)