Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thoughts about novel beginnings

Chuck Sambuchino is always a wealth of information – about writing, about publishing, about platforms, about finding an agent. In a guest column on the Writer Unboxed website today, he quotes many agents’ thoughts about:

What Not To Do When Beginning Your Novel

I’ll just share a few quotes that resonated with me. Please go to Writer Unboxed to see the full list. I just signed up to get it regularly. You may want to as well.

“Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!”
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

“The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

“I know this may sound obvious, but too much ‘telling’ vs. ‘showing’ in the first chapter is a definite warning sign for me. The first chapter should present a compelling scene, not a road map for the rest of the book. The goal is to make the reader curious about your characters, fill their heads with questions that must be answered, not fill them in on exactly where, when, who and how.”
Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency

“One of the biggest problems is the ‘information dump’ in the first few pages, where the author is trying to tell us everything we supposedly need to know to understand the story. Getting to know characters in a story is like getting to know people in real life. You find out their personality and details of their life over time.”
Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary

Chuck is the editor of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents, the 2013 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, and author of Red Dog/Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political, How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, and Create Your Writer Platform. Please go to Chuck’s website for more great information (I’ve been reading his stuff for years. I have a blog post up there too.)

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