After working on a novel for a month (NaNoWriMo), a year or 7 years, it all comes down to 10 pages.
It may not seem fair. It may not seem possible. But as my brother says, “It is what it is.”
Literary agents and publishers are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of writers and their manuscripts. So for newbies with no established street cred in society ie., fame, it’s all about 10 pages. The first 10 of your manuscript.
For writers of middle grade fiction the packet you send to find an agent usually includes a query letter and the first pages of your book. Those pages need to introduce your main characters to agents and future readers in a way that makes them want more, lots more. They need to care about your protagonists and the difficulties they face. You need to set the hook quickly and reel in your audience. Good story tellers have always done this and now its a 10 page appetizer that makes you hungry for the entire meal.
Mine are ready to go and I’ll send them out after the holidays. Between now and then I’ll review those first 10 pages again.
Before the last review I’m reading a stack of first chapters. I like to study favorites to learn how to write better. I’ll re-read Greenglass House, The Matchstick Castle, Someday Birds and others. Then I’ll check my ten. They’ve already been edited and reviewed, but I want to be sure the magic is still shimmering in each word.
What books would you read to learn about first pages? What story hooked you right away and still pulls you back to enjoy more than once?