If you can’t hook an agent or an editor, how can you expect to hook a reader?
Just finished reading – ‘The First 50 Pages’ Engage Agents, Editors, and Readers, and Set Up Your Novel for Success by Jeff Gerke.
Donald Maass even wrote a blurb for the cover – “From the insider’s perspective, everything they’re not telling you about your first 50 pages. Invaluable.” Jeff is an editor and author of fiction and nonfiction. I haven’t read any of his fiction but I had read ‘Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction”. If you are writing to publish, I would recommend this book as well. It breaks down the differences between people who outline and those who don’t and how you can improve by looking at the process from the other kind of writer’s perspective.
Jeff broke ‘The First 50 Pages’ down into two parts. Part one covers the submission process, including proposal killers and a list of mistakes he has seen over and over again with submissions.
Part two consists of what your first 50 pages needs to accomplish. He spells out what you should and shouldn’t do to get published. Jeff’s explanations are easy to understand and he uses examples of both good and bad writing. I was surprised that some of those examples were from published books and well known authors. He showed how they could have been better.
Most of the mistakes made are considered lazy writing. It’s easier to tell instead of show is probably the biggest misstep. He used both books and movies for his examples.
I plan to keep this book handy once my first draft is finished and I’ve started revisions. Jeff reinforced how important beginnings are for publication. I think my biggest surprise was his advise on prologues. He thinks they have been given a bad rap and if done effectively, he thinks they can improve the beginning of a story. Jeff did admit that some Editors are so against them that he has heard of one in particular who would rip it off the front of the manuscript and throw it away before reading the material.
If you’re looking for a writing book to help motivate you to write better, check this one out, I don’t think you will regret it.
May your writing week be productive and your reading enjoyable.