Writer Laura Droege reports on an experience at a writers conference workshop that highlights reasons why many first pages fail to provoke a turn of the page by literary agents.
At this conference, four agents on a panel listened as first pages were read aloud. Whenever an agent got to a point where she would have stopped reading, she raised her hand. Once 3 out of the 4 agents had raised their hands, the reading ended and the agents spoke about why they stopped. Many were halted with only one or two lines read.
Laura reports that out of about 35-40 submissions, only 4 got agents to keep reading. Like me, Laura figures that the first manuscript page holds 17 lines, about 200-300 words. That’s all you get.
She pulls together the reasons given for stopping, most of them grouped under two headings, Boring and Too Much Information. She notes that under “boring,” opening with the weather was mentioned multiple times.
- They liked humor. Getting a laugh got the writers more reading.
- It’s not just the first page they consider in a real submission—they do read the query letter first, and a strong premise might make them keep reading if the beginning is weak.
There’s more good information in Laura’s post, and I recommend that you give it a read here.
© 2017 Ray Rhamey
My books. You can read sample chapters and learn more about the books here.
Writing Craft Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling
Fantasy (satire) The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles
Mystery (coming of age) The Summer Boy
Science Fiction Hiding Magic
Science Fiction Gundown Free ebooks.