Thursday, December 2, 2010

Starting In The Right Spot

There is a reason why many agents ask for the first three pages and why online resellers post the first 1,000 words of novels. It is because that's all readers will give a story before they make a decision. If the story doesn't zing in the first 1,000 words, readers likely won't read more.

Like it or not, that's the world we live on. I'm as time crunched and as rushed as everyone else. I don't even give stories 1,000 words. If it doesn't grab me by the first page (250 words), I go to the next story.

I, unfortunately, always start stories too early. Instead of writing about the car accident at the point of impact, I start writing when the heroine gets into her car. That's not a terrible thing. It simply means that I hack off the first couple of thousand words of every story. Sometimes, I use this extra bit as a marketing tool, giving interested readers a prequel. Sometimes, I discard it.

Writing shorts (10,000 word stories) has been helping me tremendously with crafting those first thousand words. I establish the setting quickly. I make every word count. I don't have time to ramble.

Writers, what has helped you start stories in the right place? Readers, how many pages will you give a new story before making a decision on it?


Kimber Chin is sharing one of her stories for free on


June Kramin said...

Knowing that an agent will only ask for 10 pages or less sometimes, does help to start with more of a "zing". I am more forgiving though. I've passed 3 chapters many times thinking I couldn't finish the book but was glad I stuck it out.