The First 50 Pages – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is The First 50 Pages . Originally posted on Aug 13, 2016 12:34 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to forget how important it is to have them ready and perfected when you query Literary agents or even independent publishers.

the first 50 pages

“Drop and give me fifty!”
“Yes sir!”
“The first 50 Pages of your manuscript that is.”

Guess what? They are the most important. Who knew? I didn’t.  I did, but not in the context that the pages will make or break the deal. That’s why my first sentence ever written, isn’t the first sentence you will read, it’s not even the second sentence.

When they say put your best foot forward, they mean it. To apply to literary agents I need to submit a Synopsis, Query letter and the first 50 pages(Or less as I’ve discovered) of the manuscript. There are of course books written about how to make your first 50 stand out or to rise above the slush-pile.

(I have since learned that the most important part of the pages is the first sentence, followed by the first paragraph and first page. The first chapter must grab the readers attention above all else. If the Agent can’t get past the first page or isn’t “Sucked in” then the rest doesn’t matter. If the book is exciting on page five, then start on page five. This was a hard lesson learned the hard way.)

As odd as this is, it’s nerve-wracking(It’s still nerve-wracking.) To know I’m so close to putting it out there to be judged and hopefully loved(Loved by my beta readers, but not Literary Agents.) The trick is not to freak out about it despite the mini drill sergeant that lives in my brain yelling for me to check it again, and again. I like it, so someone else is bound to. (It’s good to know when to just go for it. I thought I was ready. I was not. I am now learning about critique partners and responsive Beta-readers. I’ll get into these another time.)

I have revised the first 50 pages more than any other part of my book. Not only for the Literary Agents but also for the readers. If it’s not interesting, exciting or fun nobody is going to read further. For the past couple of weeks(Years ago), my mind has strayed to chapter 2 and 3. They were originally chapter 1 and 2 until I added a much needed more exciting chapter 1. My problem was this. They were written first, my first ever two chapters and quickly after that, my style changed. Sure they fit in fine but there was something about 2 and 3 that seemed slow. They were almost the same scenario from two perspectives.

Two days ago(It’s now been years), I had the brilliant idea to meld them together. Pull out the repetitive crap and make one solid chapter. It came out longer than I liked, but still within a reasonable length for a single chapter. Once I put the two together, it made more sense. I knew something was wrong and now I’m glad I paid attention to my gut nagging to change them.

I will read it over again today(years ago) and probably once more tomorrow. I have a few people reviewing it for me for constructive opinions. Then I will start the process of working with a consultant. (I did work with a consultant. I found I paid money for some good advice, but I now know I was pandered to a little. I did not get the critique I was looking for. after 100% rejection I set it aside for some other projects to come back and revisit when I had some more experience.)

(Since I wrote this I’ve re-written the first 50 pages of BiaAtlas twice. I am now on a full novel re-write. This is a good thing. I have more experience and I know a heck of a lot more than I did when I wrote this post.)

My advice about the first 50 pages.

Make sure they are clean, edited, well written and interesting. It is a fine line between writing to please someone else and writing to please yourself. I have set down a book because I can’t get past the first few chapters, so I don’t want to be that writer, and yet I know others that rave it’s the best book they’ve ever read. You can’t please everyone so make sure it pleases yourself. It’s your book after all. (I would add that the first 50 is the bare minimum to have professionally edited. I did and I’m glad I invested. Those are the frontline of your story they must be perfect. I’m sorry to say to those that believe they can edit and perfect it after they get an agent. You can’t there are so many other writers pitching queries that you are on in a million and within that million, you’re just one. BiaAtlas got 100% rejection because it wasn’t ready to be queried. I am re-writing it now hoping to alter it enough and correct the errors that I can pitch it again.)

-Sheryl

 

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6 thoughts on “The First 50 Pages – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

  1. I was just asked for my first fifteen I’m sure the people didn’t read because they found out it the actual book was longer than 125,000 words. Where are these people that actually read 50 pages? Sounds like a fairytale I can deal with. 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had a few, but they rejected based on word count. My first book, BIAATLAS was over 125,000 and I was told repeatedly to get it down to industry standard if I want it to even be considered. Not an easy task, but it’s getting there.

      Like

    • It’s a lot of work, but it’s amazing. If you’re not on twitter I suggest going there and finding other writers for support. Let me know if you have any questions. If I can help I will.

      Liked by 1 person

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