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First 50 Pages Checklist

Before submitting your manuscript to an agent or editor, it’s important to make sure your submission package is in the best possible shape it can be. Here’s a checklist that can help you troubleshoot your manuscript and improve your chances of success:

  • How strong is your first line? Make sure you lead off with something that will catch an agent or editor from the very beginning.
  • Do you start with a dream scenario? Because that’s a quick path to rejection.
  • Does your story have an engaging hook?
  • Are you telling instead of showing? Remember the old writing adage “show don’t tell.”
  • Double check your point-of-view. Make sure you don’t have any errors or shifts in POV.
  • Make sure your characters have depth.
  • Is there a lack of beats for pacing and description?
  • Check for stilted dialogue.
  • Are there inadequate descriptions of characters and settings (or details that are introduced to the reader too late)?
  • Are you starting the main action too soon?
  • Are you going into flashbacks too early in the story?
  • Do you jump to a new viewpoint character too early?
  • Is there enough conflict?
  • Is there something at stake for your hero?

** Based on The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors, and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success by Jeff Gerke.

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