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Agents and the Slushpile: 10 Reasons They Stop Reading

My friend Kerrie Flanagan, who runs the Northern Colorado Writers' Conference (in Fort Collins) recently pointed me to a guest blog column on her site. The guest column examined a session at a recent writers' conference where four literary agents listened to a few pages from a slush pile submission. The agents would listen to a slush pile submission being read aloud and shared their reasons for what didn't work or what would make them stop reading.


Here are the top 10:


10. Overdone description that doesn’t move the story forward
9. Spoon-feeding the reader what the character is thinking
8. Having the characters address each other repeatedly by name, as in, “John, let’s go!”
7. Introducing a character with first and last name, as in, “John Smith entered the room.”
6. Beginning a story with dialogue
5. Opening with a cliché
4. Yanking the reader out of the action with backstory
3. Not giving the reader a sense of place or where the story is going
2. Characters are MIA until bottom of page 2
1. Telling instead of showing

To see all of Laura Bridgwater's guest column on The Writing Bug Web site, click here.

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