Teachers, I’m in the editing/revision process for my next book with Millbrook Press. Carol, my insightful editor, wondered if the book needed more of an opening to orient the reader. I wrote the book as a Things To Do If… poem (see some quick TTDI poems here and here and here), and if you go right from the title to the first page of a poem, it makes sense with no introduction. But when you’ve got a book with page turns, title page, copyright info, and potentially a lot of wiggling and noise in the room, a kid could easily get distracted between seeing the book cover and reading/hearing that first line of the poem. And in that case, that first line feels abrupt.
So I spent a lot of time this past week trying out different first pages. Should the moon speak? Should a child character speak? Should an unidentified third-person voice lead into the topic? I tried all of them. And then a conclusion, too, because once I added an intro, it felt incomplete without a conclusion.
I don’t know if the one I ended up going with will fly, but I did turn in something I liked. It was such an enjoyable puzzle, digging in to what mood I wanted the reader to enter the text in. What could I write that would make the reader turn the page and want to know more? Those are the twin jobs of an opening, I think, to set a mood and invite the reader in. And it’s hard to get just right! I’ve added beginnings after the fact before–maybe I’ll share a couple next week.
Happy writing and happy inviting!