Posted February 2019

First Pages in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction


A strong opening chapter is essential in capturing not just an agent's attention, but in hooking your readers. It is your book's first impression, and for over-scheduled, savvy young readers of Middle Grade and Young Adult, that first impression needs to resonate right away. But what makes a truly engaging opening? How much backstory is too much backstory, and what is connecting your reader to your main character? And is capturing the entire scope of a novel in the opening pages really all that necessary? In this lecture, literary agent Sarah LaPolla will discuss the best ways to effectively present voice, story, and character in your opening pages in ways that reach teen readers and keep an agent wanting more.

Event Materials

About Lecturer

About Sarah La Polla

Sarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency as an agent in 2013. She had previously worked in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., and became an associate agent there in 2010. Sarah received her MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from The New School in 2008, and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College. Representing MG, YA, and Adult fiction, Sarah is especially drawn to the following genres: literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, paranormal/contemporary fantasy, rom-com, psychological mystery, literary horror, and contemporary/realistic fiction. No matter the genre, Sarah is drawn to layered/strong characters with engaging voices. She seeks stories that evoke strong connections and novels that offer a wide range of emotions. Whether they write dark, gritty YA, light coming-of-age narratives, or edgy urban fantasy, Sarah’s authors tend to reflect larger themes within a character-focused story, such as feminism, tolerance, and challenging the status quo. Sarah is not looking for: nonfiction, picture books, inspirational/spiritual novels, romance, or erotica.