MORE Agent Chapter 1 Pet Peeves and Writing Cliches

The current issue of Writer's Digest magazine (Sept/Oct 08) has a piece in it that I wrote on literary agents' chapter 1 pet peeves. For it, I basically just contacted a whole bunch of agents - new and experienced, fiction and nonfiction, Christian and not, juvenile and adult - and asked them all what they hate to see in chapter 1.
Author:
Publish date:

Note: This is part II of
the discussion on Chapter 1
no-no's. See part I here!

The current issue of Writer's Digest magazine (Sept/Oct 08) has a piece in it that I wrote on literary agents' chapter 1 pet peeves. For it, I basically just contacted a whole bunch of agents - new and experienced, fiction and nonfiction, Christian and not, juvenile and adult - and asked them all what they hate to see in chapter 1.

They gave a lot of great feedback - real good practical stuff touching on cliches and pet peeves and overused beginnings. Here is some of the responses that we put in the printed article:

Agents Chapter 1 Pet Peeves:


"Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written."
- Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

"Slow writing with a lot of description puts me off very quickly. I like a first chapter that moves quickly and draws me in so I'm immediately hooked."
- Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst Literary Management

"Avoid any description of the weather."
- Denise Marcil, Denise Marcil Literary Agency

"I don't like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter 1. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated."
- Cricket Freeman, August Agency

"A cheesy hook drives me nuts. They say 'Open with a hook!' to grab the reader. That's true, but there's a fine line between an intriguing hook and one that's just silly. An example of a silly hook would be opening with a line of overtly sexual dialogue. Or opening with a hook that's just too convoluted to be truly interesting."
- Daniel Lazar, Writers House

" 'The Weather' is always a problem - the author feels he has to set up the scene and tell us who the characters are, etc. I like starting a story in media res."
- Elizabeth Pomada, Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents

Image placeholder title
Abate vs. Bait vs. Bate (Grammar Rules)

Abate vs. Bait vs. Bate (Grammar Rules)

Learn the differences of abate, bait, and bate on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Sarah Pinsker: On Reviving the Set-Aside Story

Sarah Pinsker: On Reviving the Set-Aside Story

Award-winning novelist Sarah Pinsker discusses how she picked up and put down a story over many years which would eventually become her latest release, We Are Satellites.

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Award-winning author Mary Alice Monroe discusses what it's like to draft a series that spans generations and storylines.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Final Competition Deadline, Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce the Self-Published Book Awards deadline for 2021, details on the upcoming Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

John B. Thompson | Book Wars

John B. Thompson: On Researching Changes in the Book Publishing Industry

John B. Thompson, author of the new book Book Wars, shares the research that went into his account of how the digital revolution changed publishing for readers and writers.

From Script

Supporting AAPI Storytellers and Tapping into Mythical World Building (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from ScriptMag.com, meet South-East-Asian-American filmmakers and screenwriters, plus interviews with screenwriter Emma Needell and comic book writer/artist Matt Kindt, TV medical advisor Dr. Oren Gottfried, and more!

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a personal essay (also known as the narrative essay) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing, examples of effective personal essays, and more.

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

If your character isn't a trained fighter but the scene calls for a fight, how can you make the scene realistic? Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch has the answers for writers here.

April PAD Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts for the 2021 April PAD Challenge

Find all 30 poetry prompts for the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge in this post.