Ten Questions Readers Should be Able to Answer After Reading Your First Page:
1) Who is the main character? If we have not met your main character yet, you need to have a really good reason (and he or she needs to show up soon.)
2) Where is the main character? Ground us in the scene with enough details that we can picture the setting for ourselves (but not so many details that we get bogged down).
3) Is there a feeling that not all is as it seems? There should be a hint of mystery behind the character’s actions that we don’t completely understand (But it shouldn’t be so mysterious that it confuses us and make us think, “What the heck is going on?”)
4) What is going on? (see above)
5) Are the characters doing something? (And is that something interesting or important to the story?)
6) What’s important to the main character or makes the character tick? A good way show the reader this to start the story with your main character engaged in an activity that is important to him/her or important to the story problem, such as a hobby, sport, responsibility etc.
7) What is the main character’s goal in this scene?
8) What are the stakes of not reaching this goal (spelled out or implied)?
9) Who or what might get in the way of the main character reaching this goal? Remember, the best story conflict happens when characters take action to achieve his/her goals and are met with resistance.
10) What is the main story problem or theme? Make sure you drop some hints about at least one, if not both, of these in the first few pages, enough that the reader could make a good guess.
Bonus Question: Can you tell the story in one line? The first line (or two in MG) is a great place to drop a big hint about the theme or story problem – something that helps reader understand the essence of your story from the start and draws them in.