Don’t start your book with back story! When reading manuscripts, story lines, plot ideas and structure concepts for my Tuscany writers retreats, starting with back story is one of the biggest problems I see. Start your story with the action, problem, conflict or whatever it is that must be overcome. Begin with the ‘what’s at stake’. Weave the back story in later, with character.
So many great stories end up getting thrown out of the agent’s or publisher’s slush pile because they simply don’t grab the reader’s attention enough right from the start.
It’s tempting to build the first chapter up slowly, using beautiful words and prose, and I blogged on the error of letting beautiful prose get in the way of clear and immediate storytelling here. It won’t snare you a deal.
During The Art of Writing, every night we interview global agents and publishers. Every year our discussions confirm time and again – beyond doubt – that agents and publishers want and will not accept anything less than gripping text. From the first sentence!
In 2017, strong story lines that hook readers from the first chapter are more essential than ever. Please remember, don’t start with back story. Go for deeper characters, more compelling dialogue and thrilling plot lines.
And check out this past Blog too on five common manuscript errors.