Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Immediacy

This quote comes from an editor, Jill Davis, who I heard speak at WIFYR. I'm not sure she's still working as an editor though....I went googling around to see and it appears she's a freelance chickadee now....but I was lazy and didn't google too much....so that could be a different Jill Davis. 

I love this quote though. And I love it more now than I did then. The point of this, this need for immediacy, was really made when I went to the Writing for Charity event last month. In our critique group, Jennifer Nielsen was so good at helping each of the authors find the action that would bring more immediacy to their first chapter. I think everyone of us needed more of it. She asked me a few questions and then voila! She had a brilliant suggestion which would bring more tension into the first paragraph. In hindsight, it seems so obvious but I didn't see it. 

My current WIP has my character hiding from someone at the beginning but I don't initially name who it is. I had a reason for this, but Jennifer thought it would be better to explain who he's hiding from and give some hint as to why. This sucks the reader in, makes them care for that kid cowering in the shadows. 

Look at your first page. What is going on? Is it boring? Is it full of back story? Scenery description? Meandering prose? Or do you have a tense moment? Is your character in danger? Or sad? Or angry? Is there some way you can suck your reader in with some immediate action? 

If not....fix it!


  1. Great quote! When I write, I write having the inciting incident as the very first scene. I've done this ever since I could remember. Interesting how agents look for that! :)

  2. Thanks, Erin. I needed that. :)

  3. Oh boy, I guess I need to re-write Chapter 1 again...

  4. I love stories that jump right into the action.

  5. I'm scared stiff the first page (or first several pages) of my WIP is boring...OK, I'm going to check it for immediacy, see if it sucks the reader in. Thanks for the post, it makes me think. (Popping in from the A-Z)

  6. Excellent advice. I rewrote parts of my first page at least a dozen times, trying to get that immediacy. IT'S HARD! Thanks for this, but now I'm going to have to rewrite my current first page again. ;)