Our 11 October meeting focused on beginnings and what makes a reader want to read more. The group was fortunate that a member shared her opening chapter for a young fiction novel. This led to a very interesting discussion of what different readerships look for and how reported conversation is so important in young fiction. A number of writers in the group were writing for children. The group also considered the voice of the child and both how that voice is made authentic, not only to that age group itself but also to younger age groups – acknowledging that children like to ‘read up’ and follow stories about children a few years older than they are.
We then moved on to three strikingly different first pages. The pieces were considered blind. Passages were from Vanity Fair, Robert Harris’ Imperium and Room by Emma Donaghue. It was fascinating to see how momentum, excitement and intrigue were established in the last two of these. The first was markedly different and the group discussed the appetite a modern reader might have to get through such a dense, factual, first page.
It was agreed that the group would bring a favourite first page to the next meeting. That might be a stand out first page or the first page of a fantastic book. The question to consider was what makes the reader continue and how much does that first page set the scene and reflect the rest of the book.
Many thanks to Caroline for such great hospitality.