Avoiding Red-Flag Mistakes on Your First Page

Author:
Publish date:
Image placeholder title

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

AgentQuery.com
QueryShark

If
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.

The Play Really Is the Thing

The Play Really Is the Thing

Studying different genres can make you a stronger writer overall. Here, author Jessica Barksdale Inclán explains why reading more Shakespeare is a great idea.

Pair vs. Pare vs. Pear (Grammar Rules)

Pair vs. Pare vs. Pear (Grammar Rules)

Prepare yourself for comparing the differences of pair, pare, and pear on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

6 Lessons of Writing for Novelists

6 Lessons of Writing for Novelists

As the author of 16 novels, Wendy Wax shares her top 6 tips for novelists to help their writing journey go as smoothly as possible.

Elyssa Friedland: On Letting Setting Guide You

Elyssa Friedland: On Letting Setting Guide You

When author Elyssa Friedland settled on the setting for her latest novel, Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, the characters and plot came to her. Here, she discusses the importance of setting.

Alyson Gerber: On Writing Difficult Topics for Young Readers

Alyson Gerber: On Writing Difficult Topics for Young Readers

Critically acclaimed author Alyson Gerber discusses how she tackled the topic of disordered eating in her latest middle-grade novel, Taking Up Space.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Annual Writing Competition, Submission Guidelines, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce the extended Annual Writing Competition deadline for 2021, details on how to submit your writing to Writer’s Digest, and more!

Amorak Huey: On Stalling Out After Publication

Amorak Huey: On Stalling Out After Publication

Poet Amorak Huey hit a creative roadblock after publishing his latest poetry collection Dad Jokes From Late in the Patriarchy. He shares his cure (and more!) in this article.

From Script

New Original Podcasts, Videos, and Understanding Data as a Screenwriter (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, Script releases brand new audible and visual content!