Avoiding Red-Flag Mistakes on Your First Page

Yesterday, I presented a webinar on how you can critically review your manuscript (particularly the
first pages) for red flags that lead to a rejection from an editor or
agent. My thanks to the 25 participants who were courageous
enough to allow us to critique their first pages.

For my blog readers, here are the common problems that we identified during the webinar:

  • Flashback on first page
  • Too much backstory or explanation, slowing story down
  • Waiting for the protagonist to appear (or unclear protagonist)
  • Starting with an alarm clock or ringing phone
  • Lots of characters introduced on first page
  • Ordinary day stuff (getting out of bed, walking to kitchen, etc)
  • Ordinary crisis moment without distinct voice or twist
  • Too much telling about the story, not enough showing
  • Nothing happens — no action or problem
  • Interior monologue: in character’s head, just lots of thinking, no acting or interaction with anyone else
  • Predictable story start or story line without a unique take
  • More of a journal entry (stream of consciousness), and not a story
  • Wrong starting point; not starting at a point of change
  • Too confusing, not enough reason or motivation to figure out what’s happening

Here are other excellent resources:

Agent/Query Research


you attended the webinar, I hope
you found the information you were looking for. Don’t forget to network
with me on Facebook, Twitter (@JaneFriedman), and LinkedIn; I regularly
post and share information of interest to writers seeking publication.

Check out next online event! How to Land a Literary Agent

Future webinars also include:

  • The Dreaded Synopsis
  • How to Get Your Poetry Published

Click here to view details on all upcoming online events.

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