Love at First Sight?: Agents Look at the First Page

Yesterday, we looked at how your first page is like a handshake. Today we're going to watch some of those handshakes in action.

First up is Agent Kathleen Ortiz, who ran a workshop called The First Five Pages for the amazing WriteOnCon (a free online conference earlier this month--if you missed it, you can read the archives).

On each of the three conference days, Kathleen read first pages sent in by conference attendees. She marks the point at which she stops reading and begins skimming, and gives a few comments at the end of each entry as to why she would or would not keep reading. 

The fun part of these is to read the first few paragraphs without scrolling down, and try to give your own evaluation. Did the characters intrigue you? Is the voice original? Do you care what happens next?

After you identify your opinion, check out what Kathleen thought. Sometimes, the two of you might agree, sometimes not. And that gives you a clue as to how subjective this process is. What one agent dislikes, another one loves. So don't give up early in the query process. Learn from what agents comment on, and apply it to your own manuscript.

Here are the links to Kathleen Ortiz' three workshop sessions:

Agent Nathan Bransford does this weekly. You can look at the page critique archives on his blog, or follow the new critiques every Friday on his forums (you don't need to register to read the forums, only if you'd like to comment). Bransford gives the details about how you can submit your first page for review, as well. 

If you missed yesterday's post, check out How Your First Page is Like a Handshake and find ways to make your first page even better.

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