While at the WVWriter's Conference last week I went to a workshop on ----- beginnings.
This was a long workshop that came in two parts. Edie Hemingway was the teacher.
Some of the things I gleamed from the workshop were:
The importance of the first page.
Your opening page should be powerful, giving a glimpse of your voice.
If writing for a young audience, try to incorporate the POV character's name, age, something about their physical appearance, and time/place within the first three pages or better yet, the first page.
That's quite a list for you to include in the first or second page of your manuscript.
In the second half of the workshop, we got the chance to read our first page for her. She, and members of the audience, critiqued it. Before reading my first page, I quickly skimmed through it, realizing that I had not incorporated some of those things listed above. I found out (through a little quick editing) that most of these bits of info can be easily incorporated into your manuscript -- and it does make it better.
Very helpful is all I can say about this part of the workshop. I would love to attend other workshops that incorporate this into their presentation.
A few other first line tips are: draw your reader in with emotion, set up conflict, set up a question for the reader, set the mood or tone of the story and jump right into voice. If starting with description, add something extraordinary (no hum-drum, overused or ordinary descriptions)!
Open with a powerful image, dialogue with tension and/or emotion to pull your reader in.
Give your manuscripts a glance and spiffy up those first pages!
Go to the library, or your bookshelves, and check out the first pages of your favorite books, to see how they did it.
Do your first pages make the grade?