The last round-up post from the spring Iowa SCBWI conference features former editor and published author Lisa Graff. She focused on what authors need to accomplish in a first chapter:

  1. Good hook. Actually, you need two: one at the beginning to entice the reader to start reading and one at the end to keep them reading.
  2. Character set-up. Give a sense of voice, personality, their goals/desires, their challenges and how they might be overcome.
  3. Set up themes, emotional arcs, narrative arcs, and conflicts.
  4. Introduce the setting. Why is it unique?
  5. Set up tone. Make sure the reader knows what they’re getting in to and make them willing to go along for the ride.
  6. Show your characters being happy. Readers need to like the characters, or at least want to read about them. Give characters goals, something for kids to latch on to.

That’s the last summary, I promise 🙂 This truly was a great conference with fantastic speakers, and I learned something in every session. Looking forward to the next!