Ellen’s First Page vs. Portia’s First Page

10 07 2011

OK, here we go! For the first comparison, I thought it would be fun to compare a book by Ellen DeGeneres and another by her wife, Portia.

Ellen’s first page is here. Read the first page of “A Message from the Author” (really a half page, has “1” at the bottom if you go through “Search Inside”).

Portia’s is here. Read the first page of the prologue (page 3).

WHICH IS GROOVIER? Portia wins!

Portia began with a prologue, which is a no-no for many people. I’m not crazy about prologues myself, but this one drew me in right away. Portia sets the stage immediately: who is this “he”? (The answer is an eating disorder.) Her method of humanizing her eating disorder is awesome and lets her get away with inserting backstory. Her prose is engaging and straightforward. She does not overuse “I” (overuse happens sometimes in memoirs and in first-person POV books). The conflict is very clear: this woman is battling an eating disorder and has since she was a child.

She should have just called the prologue “Chapter One.” We’re primarily discussing first pages, but if you must have prologues, keep them short. Ideally, they should not be more than three pages. This prologue is a bit too long.

Now for Ellen: Ellen’s humor shines through, but her setup is confusing. First, she has “A Message from the Author.” Is this like a prologue? Or is it chapter one? Are we supposed to read it? Who knows? The book begins in full force on page 9 with “The Brunch Bunch.” I think Ellen would have been better off diving right into “The Brunch Bunch” and not bothering with “A Message from the Author.” At least move it to the end. Ellen is a funny gal, and “A Message from the Author” is so solemn, so serious. At least give “A Message from the Author ”a better title.

All that said, her humor is engaging, and getting into the book was easy. The conflict and mystery in Portia’s page drew me in more, though. If you go for humor over mystery, you might prefer Ellen’s page.

Agree? Disagree?

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One response

12 07 2011
Doris Riley Short

I strongly prefer Ellen’s first pages. I like her delivery on TV and on the page. I can’t comment on the DeRossi writing as the subject does not interest me. I come to this blog with no real talent for judging writing. I’m the critic who. ‘knows nothing about art (writing) , but I know what I like’.

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