Anita Shreve, international best-selling author of 15 novels, was a keynote speaker at the West Cork Literary Festival earlier this month. Also a judge in Ireland's first "Writers Idol," she offered the following tips to those who had submitted the first page of a novel to the competition:
Don’t give too much background detail. You need to move things on.
Don’t descend into cliché; never use, designer stubble, smooth skin, cold sweat, beating hearts.
NEVER start with a character waking up in the morning.
Don’t introduce too many characters; this caused confusion.
Always write for yourself; don’t write what you think will sell.
To shine you must have an original voice. You have to be different.
Be yourself. Be confident.
Rewrite. Read your work aloud. And read the first page of books you love.
You MUST hook the reader. Maybe use a prologue.