Can You Send More Than 5 Pages?

Q. I’ve noticed that many agents ask for the first five pages of your manuscript in their query submission guidelines. I was wondering what to do if the first five pages cuts off in an awkward place, such as the middle of a scene/chapter or even the middle of a sentence. Should you reformat the manuscript so that you can fit, if not the whole scene, a better stopping point for it? Or should you just leave it as it is, because that’s just how it is, and squeezing in more or cutting something out would be deceptive?
       – Sina’i

A. I’d advise just to turn in the first five pages, even if it ends in the middle of a  sentence.  In fact, that can be helpful to you.  If you hook an agent with your first five pages, and then it abruptly ends in mid-thought, they are immediately going to request more because they want to know what happens next.
       That said, if you want to try and squeeze in a sentence or two at the end of page five, you can.  But, in theory, it shouldn’t be necessary. 
       If you’re having trouble with the start of your story, check out Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages

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2 thoughts on “Can You Send More Than 5 Pages?

  1. Sina'i

    Thanks for answering this, Chuck!

    Judging from the above comment, I’m wondering if this is a question that maybe should be asked of individual agents/agencies before querying. It seems like different agents have different opinions.

  2. David Dvorkin

    On their blogs, agents tend to disagree with that advice. From what I’ve read on those blogs, they’d prefer that the submitted pages end at a logical place, even if that means, say, six pages instead of five. Obviously, that wouldn’t mean that the writer should send in 25 pages instead of five, but there is some leeway.


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