photo by kirstyhall
Written by Chuck Sambuchino at Writer Unboxed 4/22/2013
In a previous Writer Unboxed column, I discussed the value of starting your story strong and how an “inside-out” approach to narrative action can help your case. But just as important as knowing what to do when beginning your novel is knowing what not to do.
No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents. They’re the ones on the front lines — sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they’re the ones who can tell us which Chapter 1 approaches are overused and cliche, as well as which techniques just plain don’t work. Below find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see the first pages of a writer’s submission. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!
“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter 1. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”
- Cricket Freeman, The August Agency
“I dislike opening scenes that you think are real, then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated.”
- Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary .... (Con't on Writer Unboxed)