Tips for Page One–The Scene Profile–Part Three of Three

This is part three of a three part series on editing, rewriting, and scene performance ©2013 by Robert J. Ray Page One is a big deal. That’s where you grab the reader. If you’re writing a mystery, you open with a corpse. If you’re writing a thriller, you open with your agent in trouble. But what if you’re writing a book about life’s little ironies? A book like Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. A quick look at Amsterdam: it’s short, around 200 pages. The story has no overt violence, no murder scenes, no car chases ,no hitmen, no automatic weapons fired by crazy people. It’s an adult book,  no major characters under forty. The cast is adult, educated people with solid footholds in society. The dialogue is crisp, the characters subtle and snide. Amsterdam is a satire – a good model if you have a yen to write ironic – and its opening—Page One and After—gives every would-be novelist a lesson Page One of Amsterdam opens outside a London mausoleum, where two ex-lovers, Clive and Vernon, are sparring over the memories of a woman named Molly Lane. She’s the character inside the mausoleum. If you turn the page, you meet more ex-lovers (one of them a Cabinet minister) and the husband, George Lane. The story of Amsterdam is the husband’s Revenge Quest on his dead wife’s lovers. Your task is building...

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