The First Five Pages:
A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
By Noah Lukeman
A Fireside Book, Published by Simon & Schuster, 2000
Noah Lukeman is a New York literary agent. He has represented many best selling and award winning authors and has been in a position to read a massive number of manuscripts; ones that have eventually been published and many more that have not.
This book is about how to maximize your chances of being published. It dispels many myths about what it takes to be published. This is highly encouraging, as Lukeman makes the strong point that it is not who you know, family connections, etc. that determine your success, despite what many think. Rather it is an issue of making enough mistakes to get you rejected.
Some of the mistakes authors make cause instant rejection. Others slowly buildup to a feeling by the reader to reject. So many of these mistakes come down to poor craft. This book goes step by step through the mistakes that authors made, in a clearly written way. The book is broken up into the following sections and chapters:
1. Preliminary Problems
• Adjectives and Adverbs
• Between the Lines
• Hard to Follow
3. The Bigger Picture
• Showing Versus Telling
• Viewpoint and Narration
• Pacing and Progression
Within each chapter, Lukeman lists the mistakes within that category and then goes on to offer solutions or fixes. He illustrates each with clear examples, showing failures and solutions in use.
This book is brilliant. It is applicable to both fiction and non-fiction writers, even though significant parts of the book are particularly about fiction. Some of the mistakes are obvious but others are not. In all cases Lukeman makes it clear and interesting. I found the book a rapid read and one that I will re-read many times over to make sure that the lessons sink in.
This book belongs on the shelf of every book writer who is aspiring to be published and should be consulted frequently. This is solid, hard earned wisdom that is surprisingly easy to learn from and work with. End of chapter exercises encourage you to work with your own text.
A brilliant book that will definitely make your writing better. Highly recommended.