Friday, October 27, 2006

the first page game

Julie Cohen posted something about first pages and disecting them. I have decided to play. The first one is from Gladiator's Honor, and the second one is from A Noble Captive which comes out in Hardback in Nov and paperback in Jan 07 in the UK. BTW at the moment, it looks like ANC will be available on They certainly have the cover up.

Gladiator's Honour
Rome 65 BC (Tells reader where and when)
Who was that man? And more importantly why did she know him? (There is mystery here)
Julia Antonia risked another look at the man standing in the portico of the baths.(period detail) It was not his bronzed muscular legs emerging from his almost too short tunic nor the breadth of his shoulders which captured her attention but rather the planes of his shadowed face. (Okay he 's sexy to look at but she is more interested in knowing the why) She knew those features as intimately as she knew an old friend’s and yet, when she heard him speak to his companion, she knew she had never heard his voice before.
His gaze caught hers and it seemed as if he could look into her soul. He arched an eyebrow and nodded. Did he recognise her as well? Her fingers pulled her russet shawl more firmly about her head and shoulders and smoothed the folds of her green wool gown, making sure she was dressed in a manner appropriate for a Roman matron. (showing her status, giving so detail about her --She wants to be respectible, she enjoys being respectible)
Sabina Claudia, her stepmother, gave that high-pitched cackle she always used when she tore some unsuspecting matron’s reputation to shreds and threw the scraps into the swollen river of Roman gossip. (she knows what happens to women who transgress) Sabina’s friends leant forward, their shawls quivering, eager to hear the latest juicy morsel, crowding out Julia’s view of the stranger. When Julia had the time to glance back, the man had gone, vanishing into the busy marketplace as if he had never been there. (Again the mystery, and will she be willing to risk the possible stain on her reputation? Who is he? The reader needs to turn the page)

A Noble Captive
75 BC -- An island in the Mediterranean, a few miles north of Crete (Tells reader where and when)
'The sibyl of Kybele wants to see you lot.’
The harsh voice of a pirate (indicates possible adventure. also why does this person want to see them?) cut across Tullio’s troubled dreams and jerked him awake. (shows hero is not in comfortable situation Why?)
Marcus Livius Tullio, junior tribune Legion II Fourth Cohort, (gives details of status -- Roman, triple name, officer therefore of the first estate -- the hero) winced as he stood up in the overcrowded hold where he was confined with what remained of his men. Every part of his body from his neck to his knees ached. The leg wound he received in the pirate attack throbbed.
How many days since pirates had overrun the trireme, transporting his men and him back to Rome?(period detail) Four? Five? In that short time, seven of his men had died in this stinking rat-infested place.
Some might say they were the lucky ones. (they are not in a good situation, how is he going to get out? )
In the dim light of the hold, Tullio could make out the dispirited faces of the twenty who remained alive. Already they moved like prisoners, shuffling towards the entrance with heads bowed.
‘Helmets on, boys,’ Tullio forced his voice to sound as firm and calm as it would on the parade ground outside Ostia.(acting heroic, the leader despite the circumstances, definate adventure in the offing, willing to fight his men's natural instincts to give them dignity) ‘Let’s show this priestess of theirs that we are Roman legionaries, not slaves or pirates who skulk in corners and attack in the dead of night.’ (shows hero determined in the face of danger, unbowed,. Who is the priestess? elements of conflict pirate priestess v Roman legionary)
At his words, the men stood straighter. (shows his men despite what they have been through believe him what is going to happen to them next? will their belief borne out? will Tullio escape or die? why does the priestes want to see them? the reader has to turn the page)

There is a bit more of each of my books on my website. In case anyone is interested in reading a bit further.

My first contest features a signed copy of A Noble Captive, but you must be signed up for my newsletter to partcipate.


Anonymous said...

I like how you can justify every single sentence in your first pages...this is something that some people have trouble doing but you show you know exactly what you're doing.

The added task of making sure period detail is there right away makes the historical novelist's job even more daunting.

I also have to admit I was captured by that calm, heroic quality of Tullio when I read the first few pages of ANC.

Thank you for taking my challenge!

Michelle Styles said...

I am glad you enjoyed it.

I thought the exercise v worthwhile.

It is funny when I am writing I don't think about adding the detail, I just do.

Someone asked on your blog about when the first page was written.

GH's first page was written during revisions, while ANC's as far as I can remember always started that way. Other things in the first chapter changed, but I like the imagery.

Also I do think different readers get different things out of books. What the author might see, is not what the reader sees, BUT if the author knows she is creating questions/PTQ then the first page has a better chance of grabbing a person's attention.

Anonymous said...

Neat! Thanks for sharing. ;)