- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Original ed. edition (January 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 068485743X
- ISBN-13: 978-0684857435
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 317 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile Original ed. Edition
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IF YOU'RE TIRED OF REJECTION, THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.
Whether you are a novice writer or a veteran who has already had your work published, rejection is often a frustrating reality. Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it's the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it's the job of the writer to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages.
The First Five Pages reveals the necessary elements of good writing, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, journalism, or poetry, and points out errors to be avoided, such as
* A weak opening hook
* Overuse of adjectives and adverbs
* Flat or forced metaphors or similes
* Melodramatic, commonplace or confusing dialogue
* Undeveloped characterizations and lifeless settings
* Uneven pacing and lack of progression
With exercises at the end of each chapter, this invaluable reference will allow novelists, journalists, poets and screenwriters alike to improve their technique as they learn to eliminate even the most subtle mistakes that are cause for rejection. The First Five Pages will help writers at every stage take their art to a higher -- and more successful -- level.
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This book is organized by Lukeman in the order he feels are the reasons editors, agents and publishers reject a manuscript, which is great for new writers. Now that I've read the whole book, I plan to work through my manuscript chapter by chapter referring back to this book.
I recommend reading through the entire book before going through your manuscript, because you don't want to fix one problem in your manuscript only to create a new one that's covered in a later chapter. Having the whole picture already in mind will help the writer stay on track easier.
Note: Don't assume that the chapters at the end of the book aren't important for writers to pay attention to, but rather that if you must be weak -- and all new writers will be weak in some areas -- make sure you're not weak in the areas covered in the front of this book. The decision makers will never know if you're strong in pacing if your first page is poor. They'll have tossed it by the second page.
The weaknesses in this book, in my humble opinion, are the examples. They're so blatantly obvious that they're not helpful. I would've loved to see two paragraphs compared: One that was fine, but exhibiting weaknesses and then that same paragraph made great. Most of Lukeman's examples were so painfully obvious that even the worst of writers would surely know not to write like that.
Nevertheless, I found this a great tool for beginning to intermediate writers. Advanced writers might benefit from this book as a back to basics checklist, but they're not going to learn anything new.
What I found interesting is that Lukeman addresses the questions of many who attend writers conferences. They ask editors and agents if formatting, spelling, grammar, and noun-verb dense writing are important. The editors and agents politely explain that they are, and I suspect they would just as soon roll their eyes.
Moreover, I've read manuscripts that contain such errors, and I wonder if the writers think their ideas or their plots are more important than manuscript etiquette, so I know first-hand that Lukeman addresses problems that shouldn't be.
Lukeman does not promise publishing success, nor does he offer advice regarding characterization or plot development that other books do. He simply points out reasons why many manuscripts are rejected. Since publishing houses employ fewer copy editors and proofreaders, Lukeman's advice is particularly appropriate.
I believe that The First Five Pages is more useful than many creative writing textbooks that are replete with artificial exercises. Lukeman provides room for writers to write their own stories.
This book starts out with glaringly (to me anyway) obvious mistakes, utilizing examples, then moves to the more subtle. It is organized by which things are most likely to get your manuscript chucked--things that will cause them to toss it before it even gets read, then continues through the various levels of editor discrimination that follow.
It is not the only book you'll need to polish your manuscript, but it is a good place to start--both to understand what you're up against and to identify your individual problem areas. I highly recommend this to beginning writers who are serious about getting published.