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I thought it’d be fun to do First Paragraph Friday’s, where I critique the first  paragraph of either an unpublished manuscript or a published novel.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.

Here’s the first paragraph of The Hit by Delilah S. Dawson:

The carefully folded strip of paper in my lucky locket reads I want to survive the next five days. I kiss it and tuck it under the tight neck of my long-sleeved black tee with solemn reverence my mom would give her rosary. Or, in the last six months, her Vicodin.

1. The tone of this novel reeks of desperation. The main character, I’m assuming it’s a she because of the locket, wants to survive the next 5 days.  And her mom has been abusing Vicodin for the last six months. Whatever caused her mom to go off the rails is probably the reason the next five days are going to suck. It is also ominous because it seems that the author has to save herself and her mom because her mom is incapacitated by her drug abuse.

2. I think the category is YA because once again her mother plays a central part of her life and so I don’t think this falls in the NA category.

3.  The story seems contemporary, but it’s hard to tell without any hint of the setting in the first paragraph.

4. The MC seems like she has and can rely on herself to get things done, to take care of herself and her mother.

Those are my observations. If you think I missed anything, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.