Entering the First Page student writing challenge? Judge Courtney Summers has some advice for you!
Courtney Summers is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels for young adults, including Cracked Up to Be, All the Rage and Sadie.
She has won numerous awards, including the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult literature, the 2019 Odyssey Award and the 2020 Forest of Reading White Pine Award. Her 2021 book The Project won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Young Adult novel.
Her latest novel I'm the Girl is a thriller set in a world of wealth, power and privilege.
Open until Feb, 28, 2023, the competition invites Grade 7 to 12 students in Canada to write the first page of a novel set in 2173 that imagines how a current-day event has unfolded in 150 years. Visit cbc.ca/thefirstpage to learn more.
Summers says it's important for young writers to get their feet wet in writing competitions like the First Page.
"Writing and reading are powerful tools to connect to and empathize with others, and we live in a time — or really, we've always lived in this time — where connection and empathy is sorely needed. Contests like these understand the necessity of encouraging new and diverse voices, the importance of artistic self-expression and how much we benefit, culturally, from both," she told CBC Books.
Summers shared some tips on how to craft a compelling story.
Engage your reader
"There's no universal formula for a great first page, so I won't know it until I see it. I intend to meet the writing where it is, determine whether or not it achieved what it set out to do, and if that alone was compelling enough to make me want to keep reading."
There's no universal formula for a great first page.- Courtney Summers
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Respect the craft
"Writing requires both hubris and humility, so hold fast to that part of yourself that believes your stories are worth telling, but never think you're so good at telling them that you can't ever improve.
Take your craft seriously and treat it with respect.- Courtney Summers
"Take your craft seriously and treat it with respect. If you give the writing everything you've got, with each new work you'll find you have more of everything to give.
Courtney Summers's comments have been edited for length and clarity.