PDF The First Five Pages: A Writers Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

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Cancel anytime. Whether you are a novice writer or a veteran who has already had your work published, rejection is often a frustrating reality. Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it's the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it's the job of the writer to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages.

The First Five Pages reveals the necessary elements of good writing, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, journalism, or poetry, and points out errors to be avoided. If you own only two or three books on writing in your whole life, then this should be at least one of them.


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  3. The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman.
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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The First Five Pages Editors always tell novice writers that the first few pages of a manuscript are crucial in the publishing process -- and it's true. If an editor or agent or reader loses interest after a page or two, you've lost him or her completely, even if the middle of your novel is brilliant and the ending phenomenal. Noah Lukeman, an agent in Manhattan, has take The First Five Pages Editors always tell novice writers that the first few pages of a manuscript are crucial in the publishing process -- and it's true.

Noah Lukeman, an agent in Manhattan, has taken this advice and created a book that examines just what this means, and I have to tell you, it's one of the best I've read. I've written and seen published pretty close to a dozen novels in as many years -- some are still to be published and will be out shortly; others are already out of print after four years.

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The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

I'm glad I did now. It has helped, immediately. I'm already embarrassed about some of the goofs I made in my writing -- and I've been revising recent prose with his advice in mind. First off, Lukeman is a literary agent who once was an editor, and his editorial eye is sharp. If every novelist and short story writer in this country had Lukeman as an editor, we'd have a lot more readable prose out there.

He writes: Many writers spend the majority of their time devising their plot. What they don't seem to understand is that if their execution -- if their prose -- isn't up to par, their plot may not even be considered. This bears repeating, because in all the books I've read on writing, this is an element that is most often forgotten in the rush to come up with snappy ideas and sharp plot progressions. You can always send a hero on a journey, after all, but if no reader wants to follow him, you've wasted your time.

In a tone that can be a bit professorial at times, Lukeman brings what prose is -- and how it reads to others -- into sharp focus. He deals with dialogue, style, and, most importantly, sound. How does prose sound? It must have rhythm, its own kind of music, in order to draw the reader into the fictive dream. Lukeman's tips and pointers are genuinely helpful, and even important with regard to the sound of the prose itself.

Lukeman also brings in on-target exercises for writers of prose and the wonderful advice for novelists to read poetry -- and often. Those first five pages are crucial, for all concerned. But forget the editor and agent and reader. They are important for you, the writer, because they determine the sharpness of your focus, the completeness of your vision, the confidence you, as a writer, need to plunge into a three- or four- or five-hundred-page story.

The First Five Pages should be on every writer's shelf.

The First Five Pages A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

This is the real thing. In addition, Clegg is the author of the world's first publisher-sponsored Internet email novel, Naomi. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 20th by Touchstone first published January 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The First Five Pages , please sign up. John Hannan I'm only a quarter through the book, but: Absolutely not.

The title appears as such, but it's written from a potential agent's perspective - which is …more I'm only a quarter through the book, but: Absolutely not. The title appears as such, but it's written from a potential agent's perspective - which is something pretty novel for one of these types of books.

The book is lists tips to improve the chances of your manuscript both being read and being liked by a potential publisher or agent. It's a refreshing look at the writing craft, and while, as the book's title says, it's focused on the first five pages, most of what I've read so far is practical editing advice in general. I feel I've learned plenty already.

~ by M.K Tod

See 1 question about The First Five Pages…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 24, Kelly H. Maybedog rated it did not like it Shelves: what-i-love-books , what-nonfiction , how-hardcopy , what-how-to-advice , what-writing. This isn't at all what it claims to be. I was looking for a book that would give examples of what to do and not to do in the first five pages of a book to get an editor to look at the work, the hook. In fact, he didn't think hooks are that important.

Every other writing book I've read said that if you don't grab the editor on the first couple of pages, your book won't get read. Otherwise it was another general writing book and not a good one at that. It took a long time to get to the meat of the This isn't at all what it claims to be. It took a long time to get to the meat of the book and it would only be useful for someone really new to writing who isn't very good and has no clue.

There were even grammar errors! Most of the examples were silly and extreme, made up to prove a point but not showing anything that might really be written in a book. They only focused on what was wrong, not on how to do it right. Only occasionally was a real book quoted but they were all similar, mostly classics, and ALL written by men. Some of them were even bad.

The opening line of Kafka's The Metamorphosis is, "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. The text was long without interruption, no helpful sections, recaps, sidebars, anecdotes, nothing that would make this something other than the try and boring book it was. The section organization made no sense. It was completely focused on print publishing. The stuff about formatting the manuscript was good, stuff I've never seen before, but I don't think anybody submits manuscripts by paper anymore.

It did have exercises but in huge paragraphs rather than a list, and they were all verbose, not short and sweet and helpful. This was when the author really lost me: he said that missing dialog tags was a problem. Most dialog tags are completely unnecessary and clutter up the writing!

If something is in quotes, it's obviously dialog; "he said" is not needed. The writing should convey who's talking and if it doesn't, that's the problem, not the tags. He didn't differentiate between an agent and a publisher. He also didn't mention the differences in various genres. For example, he said that we're tired of the description of a male protagonist as brown-eyed and brown-haired. That would be novel in a romance. Another poor recommendation is that you don't need to reveal the plot right away. What about in a thriller or mystery?

The plot is the most important thing and key.

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

If someone looking for suspense has to wade through two or three chapters to get any excitement, they're going to put it down. Lastly, the beginning of each chapter has a quotation sort of about writing but that doesn't match the chapter at all. I don't recommend this book to anyone. View all 6 comments. Oct 05, Amanda Webster rated it it was ok. There are a few reasons I was less than thrilled with this book.

For each chapter on what might make an agent or publisher put your manuscript down, Lukeman gave an example. Unfortunately the examples were all so obvious or over dramatized that I couldn't help but think- "There's no way anyone actually writes like this! Lukeman didn't even take his own advice, par There are a few reasons I was less than thrilled with this book. Lukeman didn't even take his own advice, particularly on subtlety. He spends a whole chapter or two talking about not beating the reader over the head with useless or repeated information, and yet I lost count of the times he gave the same advice again and again.

He paints publishers and agents out to be soul crushing monsters who look for reasons to put your book down, but I have listened to many publishers say this isn't the case. Mostly I just get the feeling this book is a little outdated. I've heard many an experienced author say that the industry is changing quickly, and next time I'll look for a book that more closely reflects that.

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Jan 23, Rain Jeys rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: all writers. Shelves: dusty-shelf-challenge So once I stopped beating my wrists and wailing at the utter unfairness of how ruthless editors and publishers can be, I took a deep breath and considered the advice in this book. But I get it. I don't like it, but I get it. And I deeply, deeply appreciate the author of So once I stopped beating my wrists and wailing at the utter unfairness of how ruthless editors and publishers can be, I took a deep breath and considered the advice in this book.

And I deeply, deeply appreciate the author of this book leveling with the aspiring authors out there and telling it like it is. Learning to see your work the way an editor would is truly invaluable. I'm one of those people who when I edit my own work, I can tell when something is off, but I can't necessarily tell what it is, or how to fix it.


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  • This book was like a road map to me, because it showed me how to identify and fix many of these issues. I feel much less lost when editing now. My writing has improved, and so has my confidence in my writing. The book walks you through the major issues that editors look for that will get you rejected, and advises you on how to address them. Examples are given, both of how-to and how-not-to, for each step. I definitely appreciated the chapter on sound, as it is something I think many authors don't think about as much.

    The only issue I have with this book is the worry that because it is over ten years old maybe the industry has changed, and so the advice may not be completely spot-on anymore, but even so, it is still a valuable look inside the publishing industry. Source: Received as a gift Jul 19, Jared Millet rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , writing.

    Anyone who daydreams about being a published writer owes it to themselves to read this book and learn what they're up against. There are many, many writing books out there, but this one stands apart for a couple of reasons. One: it's not by a writer, but by one of those evil literary agents who currently act as the bouncers of the publishing community. His focus in this book is to tell the aspiring writer exactly why their work is going to be rejected long before things like plot, setting, and c Anyone who daydreams about being a published writer owes it to themselves to read this book and learn what they're up against.

    His focus in this book is to tell the aspiring writer exactly why their work is going to be rejected long before things like plot, setting, and characterization ever come into play. Which leads us to- Two: While lots of writing books focus on the "big picture" themes first and only get down to the fine details of editing and word choice in a couple of chapters at the end, Lukeman does it the other way around.

    He begins by looking at the individual word and punctuation mark , because that's the first thing a bouncer agent will notice. Only after you've proven yourself in terms of style and readability will the agent be forced to give you a closer look - and then it gets worse. If you are marginally competent enough to get him past the "first five pages" you're still not in the clear - because now you've pissed the bouncer agent off by forcing him to read your work more deeply, and that's when the gloves really come off.

    Dec 26, Carrie rated it really liked it Shelves: writing-marketing. Much of this will be review for all but the newest writers. No hot secret or sure tips to nab an agent's attention; mostly common sense advice. Still, it bears repeating nonetheless, and a little review benefits even the most seasoned of writers. My writing teacher recommended this book for novelists wishing to improve the very start of their book so it grabs people right away. I immediately put in an order for it and consumed it as soon as it arrived. The title is misleading. This book, like several others I've read, goes over what you should and should not do in prose writing.

    Show don't tell. Passive voice. Dialogue tags. Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily! Interesting post. I like strange words. Dictionaries are always nice to snuggle up to. We recently got an unabridged dictionary from a neighbor. Old, but interesting. Seems like an interesting book. I think it will help me. It touts itself on not being a book about creative writing, but somehow manages to hit the fundamental nails on the heads in each chapter.

    I agree with Noah Lukeman. I feel like often times, authors are so excited to get their work out there that they fail to see their work as readers often do — something that they do not have to read.