Daily Archives: July 19, 2008

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First Impressions

July 19, 2008 by in category Archives

Monica Stoner Member at Large

Expressions are trite because they are often the best way to say something. Such as: “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” From a writer’s point of view, you sometimes only get the first few pages to make a good impression on an editor, before they are on to the next submission.

Judging a 100,000 word book on less than 1,000 words doesn’t seem fair, but let’s fall back on another trite expression. Sometimes, life really isn’t fair. A reality of today’s lifestyle is that our books are too often judged on that one tiny bit. Possibly even on no more than a title. A working title chosen on a whim can turn people off before they ever even read a word of your book. Don’t handicap yourself before anyone reads a word of the actual book. A funny, clever, or evocative title can suck people into a book for far longer than they might have stayed otherwise.

Readers can latch on to minor details, something we as writers might not find important, and lose track of the story. What seems needed detail as we so lovingly set a scene can come across as far too much detail, put out far too soon, and before that first clever line of dialogue is ever read, before the charming lost prince of the Faerie world can step into the scene to be instantly attracted to our lovely, plucky, intelligent yet humble heroine. Give them a chance to enthrall the rest of the world as much as they have enthralled their creator.

All of this was forcibly brought home to me when I participated in an anonymous reading of the first three manuscript pages. I listened to a narration of scene setting, atmospheric phrases, and long before one of the judges called for a stop, I was cringing and mentally deleting whole pages. All time realizing – so THAT’s why this book isn’t selling!

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