The manuscript with a formula oozes confidence. Are you ready to work it out? Disclaimer: no creative vibes were harmed in the process.
Wizards, scientists and mathematicians don’t have a problem with them. Writers shouldn’t either. Formulas are just a code to success. Crack the code, write the book, brilliantly.
Here’s what the first 10 pages need:
1. Heat, explosion, reaction
Dynamite or dragons will do. Metaphorical explosions are just as effective. The arrival of Bingley (“a young man of large fortune”) within the first 10 pages of Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen is an explosive revelation within the Bennet household.
- Formula: Single-man status + big bank balance = intrigue.
2. Wizard, scientist, protagonist
Who is calling the shots? Establish a strong narrative voice within the first 10 pages and the reader is more likely to read on. “Dear God, I am fourteen years old.
I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.” The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
- Formula: Heartbreaking start + compelling narrative = emotional hook.
3. Stir, shake, release
The start of the book needs movement. Characters are created equal until you add an emotion or event to stir them up. Love, revenge, fear, lies, confusion, ambition, pain and power are great movers and shakers. “Boy loses girl” is the title of Part One in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and we want to know how, where and why.
- Formula: Boy – girl = questions.
4. Plot, pace, information
Know the story. Flow the story. Tell the story. Three concise formation rules to the first 10 pages. “The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate.” The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
- Formula: Imaginary community + rules = revelations.
5. Method, structure, technique
Set up and resolve the story within the book time frame (start, middle, end). The goal is to push your character to be a different version of themselves. “The Radley Place had ceased to terrify me, but it was no less gloomy, no less chilly under its great oaks, and no less uninviting.” To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In other words, the Radley Place hadn’t changed but Scout Finch had.
- Formula: Story arc + dialogue + description = reader satisfaction.