If you’re a writer who’s been in the trenches for awhile, you know the importance of the first page of your manuscript. It’s supposed to do a myriad of things like establish voice, create character presence, and give an inkling of the premise. It’s a lot of pressure for one page. Recently, I received a critique back from one of my CP’s (critique partners) and she provided insight into the first page, but more importantly she reacted to my first paragraph. She pointed out what she’d learned about the story and character just from reading the first six lines.

I thought it’d be fun to do First Paragraph Friday’s, where I critique the first  paragraph of either an unpublished manuscript or a published novel. If you want to participate, send me the first paragraph of your first page to writedahl (at) yahoo (dot) com and I’ll give you feedback about what I learned from it. Then you can decide if that’s what you wanted your reader to learn.

I picked The Banks Sisters by Nikki Turner. Usually I don’t look at the book cover other than to open it and read the first paragraph; however, this cover is stuck in my mind. On the front is three African American women and a picture of what I think is a bank vault. I picked it because of the three women of color on it. I support diversity and to support it, you have to read it. And it looks ominous. I love thrillers and suspense. So it seems it’s right up my ally. As for the remembering the cover, it’s going to effect my thoughts on the first paragraph. Nothing I can do about it now.

Here goes:

A black van had been squatting on the corner of Jefferson Avenue for the past twenty minutes. It was an older cargo van with limousine-grade tinted windows. It easily blended in with the other vehicles on the busy street that no one paid the van much attention. A mistake that would cost everyone dearly. 

My Observations:

1. I’m going to guess the genre of the book is a thriller. Not only because of the cover, but because of the last sentence…would cost everyone dearly. That means whatever is about to happen is going to have a wider effect than on more than one person. Also, the tone is ominous.

2. I suspect it’s going to be fast paced and filled with some twists. The contrast of the van sitting on the corner being no big deal and that being a mistake leads me to believe this.

3. Unfortunately, I have no clue about the main character, but the first paragraph is enough to entice me to read on or turn the page.

That’s it. Not much to go on, but I’m excited to read this book. I’d love to know if you picked up something differently than I did.