Inviting a Reader in

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!

3 Responses

  1. Laura,
    I admire your drive and determination! You either nailed it or you will soon! Believing in you. By the way, I saw a slide at the SCBWI‑C conference that showed your creative non-fiction series including A Rock Can Be. The word is spreading!

    1. Thanks, Linda. We’ll see what happens! Introductions (and titles) are HARD! Hey, how nice that ROCK was included. Thanks for letting me know:>)

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