- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Original ed. edition (January 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 068485743X
- ISBN-13: 978-0684857435
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 311 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,324 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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The difference between The First Five Pages and most books on writing is that the others are written by teachers and writers. This one comes from a literary agent--one whose clients include Pulitzer Prize nominees, New York Times bestselling authors, Pushcart Prize recipients, and American Book Award winners. Noah Lukeman is not trying to impart the finer points of writing well. He wants to teach you "how to identify and avoid bad writing," so that your manuscript doesn't come boomeranging back to you in that self-addressed, stamped envelope. Surprise: Agents and editors don't read manuscripts for fun; they are looking for reasons to reject them. Lukeman has arranged his book "in the order of what I look for when trying to dismiss a manuscript," starting with presentation and concluding with pacing and progression. Each chapter addresses a pitfall of poor writing--overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, tedious or unrealistic dialogue, and lack of subtlety to name just a few--by identifying the problem, presenting solutions, giving examples (one wishes these weren't quite so obvious), and offering writing exercises. It's a little bizarre to think about approaching your work as would an agent, but if you are serious about getting published, you may as well get used to it. Plus, Lukeman has plenty of solid advice worth listening to. Particularly fine are his exercises for removing and spicing up modifiers and his remedies for all kinds of faulty dialogue. --Jane Steinberg
From Library Journal
Novice and amateur writers alike will benefit from literary agent Lukeman's lucid advice in this handy, inexpensive little book. Lukeman draws on his years of editorial experience to present an inside look at manuscript submission. He provides suggestions, examples, and practice exercises designed to lift ordinary prose to a higher level. Covering writing fundamentals, including viewpoint, tone, pacing, character development, grammar, and more, Lukeman sprinkles examples of common writing problems and simple solutions throughout the text. Carrying the craft of writing beyond Strunk and White's classic Elements of Style, this book should find a wide audience; public libraries sponsoring writers' groups and workshops will want multiple copies. Academic libraries will want several copies to share with writing labs. Highly recommended.
-Denise S. Sticha, Seton Hill Coll., Greensburg, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
I will however mention the fact that, in my opinion, the examples weren't that helpful. Most of the time they were contrived and blatantly obvious, something he might have chosen to do in order to prove his points. I found that I skipped past those most times.
I did enjoy how the book was divided though, each chapter gaining its own momentum and rhythm from a formula of information: introduction, solutions, examples, and exercises.
I'd definitely recommend this to all writers with the understanding that this book is about you as a writer in the whole. It's not just focused on the "first five pages" as a means to get published fast, but at the fact that good writing can been seen in the first five pages but deals with the 19 things Mr. Lukeman points out in the book.
Give it a read!
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.
I approach such advise books with caution but heartily recommend his work.
This book is not about stifling creativity in Big-Brother-esque fashion. It is about giving oneself a firm foundation from which to soar. What good is deathless prose if no one ever reads it?
The introduction alone was enough to give me a valuable new perspective on writing. And on the subject of writing, Mr. Lukeman is no mean writer in his own right. There is nothing pompous or authoritarian about The First Five Pages; there is instead an air of friendly advice. In Mr. Lukeman's own words, ". . . all I can say is that if you walk away from these pages with even one idea that helps you with even one word of your writing, then it's been worth it."
Believe me, it's worth it.
"Ask yourself what you would do if you knew you would never be published. Would you still write? If you are truly writing for the art of it, the answer will be yes. And then, every word is a victory."
Yes, Noah, YES!