In How to Read Novels Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster says: "The first page, sometimes the first paragraph, even the first sentence, can give you everything you need to know to read the novel. How? By conveying some or all of the eighteen things the first page can tell you." 1. Style - Short or long sentences? Simple or complex? Rushed or leisurely? How many modifiers - adjectives and adverbs and such? 2.Tone - The speaker's attitude. Every book has a tone. For example, is it factual or ironic? How does the narrator feel about th events being described? 3. Mood -How does the narrator make you (the reader) respond emotionally to the story? 4. Diction - What kinds of words does the novel use? Are they common or rare? Friendly or challenging? Are the sentences whole or fractured, and if the latter, on purpose or accidentally? 5. Point of View - The first issue isn't who is telling the story in terms of identity. For most novels, there is no "who" in that sense. But straight off we can learn who relative to the story and its characters. Is this a "he/she" story or an "I" story? 6. Narrative Presence - Now we can speak of the other who. Is this voice disembodied or possessed by a personage, inside or outside the story? 7. Narrative Attitude - How does the narrator feel about the people and action in the novel? 8. Time Frame - When is all this happening? Contemporaneously or a long time ago? How can we tell? In what part of the narrator's life, if she's a character? 9. Time Management - Will time go fast or slow in this novel? Is it being told in or near the now of the story or long after? 10. Place - OK, setting, but more than setting. Place is a sense of things, a mode of thought, a way of seeing. 11. Motif - Stuff that happens again and again. Motif can be image, action, language pattern, or anything that repeats. 12. Theme - The idea content of the story. Sometimes theme overlaps with motif, as those reoccurrences serve to reinforce a key idea. 13. Irony - Or not; some novels are in dead earnest. Others are ironic on any number of levels - verbal, dramatic, situational, comic - and often that shows up right away. 14. Rhythm - There are two levels of rhythm in a novel: prose and narrative. Narrative rhythm will take a while to establish, but the prose starts to show up right away, and often suggests how the larger narrative rhythm will work. Rhythm is related to diction, but with this difference: diction has to do with the words a writer uses, while rhythm is how they are deployed in sentences. In practice they are inseparable. Does the writer blurt out information or withhold it? State it directly, or bury it in a series of clauses? Cause words to tumble over one another, or meander along? 15. Pace - How fast do we go? 16. Expectations - Of the writer, and of the reader. How hard does the novel expect us to work? How much information should we bring to the novel? What sort of attitude is the ideal reader supposed to have? Do we want to read this novel? Do we approve of the word choice, etc.? 17. Character - Not always on the first page, but more often than not - and usually it's the main character. People are a helpful way to start a novel. 18. Instructions on how to read the novel - All the elements above combine to teach us how the novel wants to be read. Whether we read it that way us up to us, but every novel wants to be read in a certain way.