When I help my clients prepare the pitch materials for their novel, it’s not just the query and synopsis we focus on—it’s their opening pages.
Because it doesn’t matter how snappy that query letter is, or how promising that synopsis reads: If the opening pages of the story itself don’t suck the agent or editor in, those pages won’t have the desired effect on readers, which means the book won’t sell.
Needless to say, books that don’t sell are not the type of books agents and editors are interested in.
I’ve written elsewhere about the basics that pros are looking for in the opening pages of a novel: A clear point of view, a compelling voice, compelling characters, specific details, and tension of some type.
I’ve also noted the less obvious things: an internal struggle/vulnerability/weakness that signals the beginning of a character arc; one or more story elements that raise questions, thereby stimulating the reader’s curiosity; and well-integrated backstory.
But none of that answers a burning question so many of us have: How do I know if I’m actually starting in the right place?
Read about the three key elements of crafting an excellent opening in the blog post I wrote for Jane Friedman, here.
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