Nothing like rainy weather and a mountain cottage to keep your focus on writing. I’ve completed two sessions with an agent and an editor/illustrator and have learned new insights with their feedback. I recommend you have someone read your pages out loud. It’s both different and amazing hearing the words come through another reader. I have two more small group meetings remaining but wanted to post thoughts on first pages from the faculty in attendance at our large group session.
The featured guest panel of agents and editors spent 90 minutes reading our first pages out loud and discussing what they liked and didn’t like. It was anonymous so no one knew yours was being read. Here’s what works for them and increases the chances they will read on:
- Grab a young reader from the get-go.
- Slow starts are killers.
- Watch for overuse of movement directions.
- Get right into the characters.
- Make a super strong first sentence.
- Historical fiction needs a hook – the time period is not your hook.
- Give a sense of time, place, and setting, especially for sci-fi and fantasy.
- It is makes me laugh I’ll read on.
- Cliche’s are also killers.
- Make it exciting.
And this final one: You may have a great start already written. Try switching paragraphs around.
I’m heading back to the cottage and will post more tomorrow!