Meaty Book Openings

My dog, Emmy, has this plastic bone that holds her attention for a few moments at best. It’s knobby, fits in her paws just right, and is good for a brief chew. Then she has these mini rawhide bones filled with “meat”. She will jump and run in circles when she sees one of them, and she digs in until that bone is a soggy mess.

What kind of opening do you have? The market is SO competitive, that if an agent, editor, or reader isn’t digging in to our first few pages with that kind of relish, than they are likely moving on.

Don’t write the plastic bone! Make sure you’re offering your reader “meat” (by way of conflict, strong voice, and compelling hook), that will prove an interesting and irresistible “chew.”

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An agent once told me: “If I can put it down, I will. As agents, we can only make time for the books that grab us and don’t let go.”

Like so many of you, I’ve been on the receiving end of this—by way of rejection, or passes on requested pages. It stings. And while the market is truly a subjective one, for the most part a good story is still a good story. So if you’re not getting manuscript requests (from agents who represent your genre) ask yourself: What is missing in my opening pages? If your premise is strong, are you giving your MC’s enough “flavor”—or are they a little too plastic?

Look at the books that grab you. What is it about them that makes you dig in and keep reading? Go back through your first pages and beef them up, till they’re something an agent won’t put down– and your story is one readers will want to come back to again and again.

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