The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

ISBN : 9780199575282

Noah Lukeman
208 Pages
127 x 196 mm
Pub date
Feb 2010
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  • Written by a successful literary agent with an insider's knowledge of what agents are looking for
  • Provides practical and methodical advice for developing the elements of good writing
  • Clearly identifies symptoms of bad writing and common pitfalls to avoid
  • Includes exercises at the end of every chapter to improve one's technique
  • Covers fiction, non-fiction, and poetry

New to this Edition:

  • More international audience

Whether you are a novice writer or a veteran who has already had your work published, rejection is often a frustrating reality. Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it's the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it's the job of the writer to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages.
The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile reveals the necessary elements of good writing, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, journalism, or poetry, and points out errors to be avoided, such as:
- A weak opening hook
- Overuse of adjectives and adverbs
- Flat or forced metaphors or similes
- Undeveloped characterizations and lifeless settings
- Uneven pacing and lack of progression
With exercises at the end of each chapter, this invaluable reference will allow novelists, journalists, poets, and screenwriters alike to improve their technique as they learn to eliminate even the most subtle mistakes that are cause for rejection. The First Five Pageswill help writers at every stage take their art to a higher - and more successful - level.


1: Presentation
2: Adjectives and Adverbs
3: Sound
4: Comparison
5: Style
6: Between the Lines
7: Commonplace
8: Informative
9: Melodramatic
10: Hard to Follow
11: Showing Versus Telling
12: Viewpoint and Narration
13: Characterization
14: Hooks
15: Subtlety
16: Tone
17: Focus
18: Setting
19: Pacing and Progression

About the author: 

Noah Lukeman, Runs his own New York literary agency

Review from previous edition 
Intelligent, important, valuable, and entertaining instructions. . . . It should be read by all novice writers - and by those whose books are already published but intend to write more. - Richard Marek, former editorial director of Kirkus Reviews

Mr. Lukeman has written a definitive handbook on the pitfalls to avoid in your work. . . . I highly recommend The First Five Pages to anyone who is serious about their writing. - PlanetShowbiz.com

Tricks of the trade add to The First Five Pages' value, as do tips on grammar, style, voice and dialogue, and writing exercises. . . . A bargain when you consider all the information packed into [it]. - San Antonio Express-News

Novice and amateur writers alike will benefit from literary agent Lukeman's lucid advice in this handy, inexpensive little book. Carrying the craft of writing beyong Strunk and White's classic Elements of Style, this book should find a wide audience. . . . Writers' groups and workshops will want multiple copies. - Library Journal

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