Start Your Story Off With a Bang

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I have come to learn that the best way to get a publisher’s attention is to start your story off with a bang.

It doesn’t have to be a full on action or intimate scene (althought that is what has worked for me) but something that really hooks their attention. It can be anything from the character being stuck in a hilarious situation to a dream they are having, the sky is the limit.

The main thing is to grab the readers attention and keep it by being original. They don’t want to read something that is like so many they have seen before. You have to remember that the person evaluating your story has a lot on their plate in the form of hundreds of submitted manuscripts. There has to be something special about yours that hooks them from the beginning.

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Often the title of your submission catches their attention. Make your title bold and original. Something that makes them laugh or say, “What on Earth?”. Either way, they need to be intrigued. Which brings me to the dreaded query letter. Keep it short and simple. This is me, this is what I have accomplished in the writing world thus far and this is the story I am proposing to you. As I said before, these editors don’t have time to fool around.

And finally, don’t get down when the inevitable but dreaded rejection letter comes. There is not an author on the planet who has not been rejected by one company or another. It happens. Despite our belief that our book is awesome, it may not fit the needs of the publishing house in which you have submitted. But as I always say, keep writing, keep trying and most of all don’t give up! Stephen King and Nora Roberts did not get where they are today by giving up.

So, my advice to you is this. Keep trying. You will hit road blocks and bumps and potholes but in the end it is still a road and you will get to where you are going if you stay on it.

3 Comments
  1. Paula Boer says

    Starting with a bang is certainly a good idea, even if that is not how the book ends up in its final structure. Extracting an exciting scene to use as a prologue is a standard technique in attracting publishers’ attention.

  2. Joel Huan says

    Very great advice. Instead of hooking the readers in the first five pages, these days, with so much other distractions, we need to hook the readers in the first five paragraphs!

  3. Caryl McAdoo says

    Ken Follet’s opening in THE KEY TO REBECCA: The last camel collapsed at noon. Isn’t that a great opening. And the person is a minor character. I love great opening lines. Agents and editors do, too! Be sure to check Texas Tenders right here on Angie’s Diary next week for more ideas on ways to open your story. Blessings from Texas!

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