“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Things to try. Things to remember.
- Famous musicians photographed with their parents.
- Sketch of a Mumbai market.
- Traditional sculptures with a twist.
- An article about the pandemic from a year ago. Interesting.
- 25 ways to make your kid smile.
- Amazing tricks of nature.
- For the writers: here are some challenges to ramp up your writing skills.
- Have you always wanted to learn free-motion quilting, but were afraid to try? Here’s a free challenge to get you started.
- Is the pandemic over yet? Here’s a playlist.
- Could your kids use a virtual storytime? How about with astronauts reading from space?
- How choice and chance play out in our lives.
- A watercolorist describes her process.
This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.
Once you’ve finished writing, proofreading, editing, and formatting your book, the next step toward getting it published is to try to get a literary agent for representation. While each literary agent’s submission guidelines are different, the submission strategists at Writer’s Relief know you’ll need to prepare a query letter, synopsis, and the first fifteen pages of your novel—and only the first fifteen pages—to effectively query agents. So it’s vital that your first pages make a great first impression, hook your readers, and leave them wanting more! Here’s how to get a literary agent with the first fifteen pages of your novel.
How The First 15 Pages Of Your Novel Will Help You Get A Literary Agent
Some writers might feel the first fifteen pages aren’t their strongest and would rather submit the entire manuscript. But literary agents know these are the pages book buyers will read first, and it’s important they are drawn into the story and want to keep reading. It doesn’t matter how great the middle of your story is or how clever the plot twist and ending are—if your first fifteen pages don’t intrigue the agent or your readers, no one’s going to keep reading.
Writing Tips For Boosting The Impact Of The First 15 Pages Of Your Novel
Begin with an opening sentence that packs a punch. What do you want your very first statement to communicate? Don’t just set the scene. You can create mystery, incite conflict, or start drama all with your first sentence. Not only will it keep the agent reading, but it will set the tone for the rest of your work.
Introduce your hook. The hook tells us who your protagonist is, what their life is like, and how they deal with the conflicts that arise. Set the plot in motion and give the reader someone to root for and a reason to cheer on this character! Use these first fifteen pages to set the tone for the rest of the story.
Add emotion. Your novel can be cleanly written and grammatically correct, but without emotion, the story will be flat and boring. Readers will want to know how your main character feels about what is happening. The emotional response from your protagonist raises the stakes for your plot, and inviting an emotional response will have an agent invested in your novel.
Establish plot, character, and setting. You want to introduce these elements in a way that will intrigue readers so they’ll commit to reading more. Once you’ve completed your novel, go back and reread your first fifteen pages to see if you need to cut anything out or add in certain details. You may even find yourself completely rewriting the opening pages in order to best bring in your plot, characters, and setting.
Avoid too much exposition. While it’s necessary to include details about your plot, characters, or setting, be careful not to treat the first fifteen pages as a setup or prologue for the actual story. Don’t write paragraphs of telling what your character looks like or what kind of weather is happening—show who the characters are through their words and actions; reveal the weather through its effects on the protagonist.
End the first chapter well. Don’t let the first chapter drag on—find a stopping point that will encourage the reader to continue to chapter two! Introduce a new character, add a plot twist, or leave readers in the middle of a conflict so they are eager to know what comes next.
If you can grab an agent’s interest in the first fifteen pages of your novel, you’ll boost your odds of getting a request to see more pages or the entire manuscript—and of ultimately landing a literary agent. Follow these easy writing tips and you’ll be sure to leave readers wanting more of you and your book!
Question: Tell us the title of a book you think has a great first fifteen pages.
Enjoy these twelve creative articles.
- These look like photographs, but they’re actually pastel.
- Gorgeous zentangles.
- The stories behind two quilts.
- A complete story in nine frames. I laughed. I cried. I sighed with relief at the end.
- This article is a year old, but I just came across it recently. 30 years of Black Barbie dolls.
- If you’re not a writer, you might not know that writing has a down side. It’s not all glitz and glamour, people.
- Have you been by yourself a lot during the pandemic? Read this pre-pandemic article about the virtues of solitude.
- I love this artist’s detailed drawings.
- Make an Irish Chain quilt for St. Paddy’s Day. You’ve only got 2 1/2 weeks, but these directions make it easy.
- If you use alcohol inks, or you’d like to someday, you might be interested in this sanitary technique.
- A brief history of African-Americans in the arts.
- For greater productivity, structure your day like a football coach.
Twelve tantalizing articles to spark your imagination this weekend.
- Start tangling in your journal.
- You deserve a treat. Check out these animated shorts. Especially the first one.
- For the math nerds.
- A quilt story.
- For the novelists: your first (or second, or third) draft is done, but it’s not what you know it could be. Try these writing exercises to improve your story.
- Black-owned bookstores in 33 states.
- This looks like fun: a virtual poetry reading via Zoom.
- Interesting pictures.
- Small-scale nature embroideries embellished with beads.
- The secret life of trees.
- I had to look up “confabulation.” Apparently, it’s a big problem in our society.
- When conditions are perfect, this waterfall is on fire.
Topics serious and entertaining:
- For the writers: information about all possible book publishing paths.
- For the writers: how guest blogging can help you promote your novel.
- How the gift of books helps change lives in prison.
- Some beautiful quilts—including three on Mazie Hirono’s wall.
- How to review poetry books (many of the points cross over to other reviews as well).
- Some ideas for generating worthwhile social media content.
- If you love cats, you’re going to love this.
- Todd Brison writes about 50 things that helped him get through 2020. They might help you with the rough start of 2021.
- A different interpretation of a well-known Bible story. I never thought about it quite like this before.
- Gifts to sew for every occasion. Get started now for next Christmas.
- What it’s like to have Covid. If it hasn’t touched your circle, you just don’t know.
- How an artist’s pandemic experience influenced his illustration work.
If you are a creative person, you should watch this.
It’s the beginning of a new era. Hallelujah!
- I love reading quilters’ thoughts as they design their quilts.
- A dad who sews. Oh, won’t you be my daddy?
- Some beautiful Zentangle projects.
- Amazing photography of waves.
- For the writers: how to combat resistance.
- More for the writers: Top 100 Writers’ Websites. Some of these I’ve never heard of. Must. Check. Out.
- President Biden’s Inaugural Address.
- Poems by the Inaugural Poet, Amanda Gordon.
- The Inaugural Benediction given by Reverend Sylvester Beaman.
- A watercolorist’s journey.
- I love this CZT’s Instagram page.
- Lovely little sketchbook.