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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.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ending Your Story Too Soon

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ending Your Story Too Soon

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is ending your story too soon.

FightWrite™: Fight Scenes with Magic

FightWrite™: Fight Scenes With Magic

In this post, trained fighter and author Carla Hoch explores the process of writing fight scenes with magic—how to make the unbelievable believable, how limitations bring us closer to our characters, and more.

Invoice Template for Freelance Writers

Invoice Template for Freelance Writers

If you're a freelance writer who is able to secure assignments, an essential tool you'll need is an invoice. In this post, Writer's Digest Senior Editor Robert Lee Brewer shares a very basic and easy invoice template for freelance writers to get the job done (and get paid).

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

A career behind the curtain helped Amy Neswald in creating her own stories. Here, the author shares 3 things being a broadway wig master taught her about storytelling.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let things get a little out of control.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 14th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.

NaNoWriMo’s Over … Now What?

NaNoWriMo’s Over … Now What?

After an intense writing challenge, you might feel a little lost. Here are some tips from Managing Editor and fellow Wrimo Moriah Richard for capitalizing on your momentum.

Ian Douglas: On Telling the Truth in Science Fiction

Ian Douglas: On Telling the Truth in Science Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Ian Douglas discusses how he incorporated implausible conspiracy theories to uncover the truth in his new science fiction novel, Alien Hostiles.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 589

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a yesterday poem.