SCBWI Highlights: What Editors Do and First Page Dos and Don’ts

This week, I thought I share some highlights from the workshops I attended at the 41 st Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in LA.

Jordan Brown spoke to us about his list including what, how and why he publishes. Lately, I’ve come to appreciate his advice about how great writers are great readers. They are aware of what is out in the market. My dear friend and writing buddy Katrina Bender is forever introducing me to new books and I love that about her. ๐Ÿ™‚

He described the editor’s job as being to: look at the page and figure out what is in the author’s head and try to get it onto the page better. As I’ve been working on feedback from an agent, I can see what he meant. This agent is helping me get to the heart of my story and tell it better.

Krista Marino gave an insightful workshop filled with terrific tips on “The Importance of Firsts: First Line, First Page, and First 5 Pages.” One of the key points in her talk was the importance of not leading the reader astray or boring them in any of those firsts.

She touched on some elements that can make a first line intriguing: having an inherent question, introducing a main character, giving a sense of setting, and voice. Those will all tug the reader into the story.

A couple things she advised against doing in the first five pages included: introducing too many characters, including flashbacks, POV jumps. I think these were “don’ts” because they can confuse the reader and/or disorient them.

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10 Responses to SCBWI Highlights: What Editors Do and First Page Dos and Don’ts

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    More great takeaways for us. Thank you!

  2. Sounds like a great agent you’ve got mentoring you, Kourtney. And those tips on not boring the reader from the get-go makes total sense. The more I read, the pickier I become about what stories I choose to keep reading.

    • Thanks August! I’m really grateful to the agent. I’m the same way. I used to give a book 50 pages. Now It’s getting to be 2-5 pages. If I’m not connecting or getting pulled in, I put it aside. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Elliot says:

    I think POV jumps in the first few pages is a definite no. You need to establish at least one character and the rules of the world first.

  4. 4amWriter says:

    These are very helpful tips. I’m kind of fanatical against POV jumping and I’d easily say it’s a terrible no-no in any part of the book.

    Now I need to just make sure I didn’t do any don’ts. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Glad to share them. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think POV shifts are best with chapter or at least scene breaks. Otherwise, I get confused and annoyed and put the book down. LOL. It’s funny when you read the dont’s and then realize you actually have a couple. But it’s all part of the process of becoming a better writer. So it’s sorta a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. mj monaghan says:

    Great stuff, Kourtney! Love the tips on Firsts.

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