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The "Write" Kind of Festival

Hello Everyone,
I hope all is well with you.  No complaints here in my neck of the woods. Yesterday,   hubby watched the boys while I checked out the West Virginia Book Festival.  This was the first year I attended the event and boy oh boy, I sure didn't know what I was missing. 

The civic center spilled over with writers and publishers from all over the state.  I met Rick Robinson, author of Manifest Destiny (political fiction).  His book was a finalist in the Indie Excellence  Book Awards.   Rick was very personable and clearly knew his way around the publishing industry. He even gave me his e-mail address in case I had questions about the business.  I bought a copy of his book and though I'm only a couple of chapters in, so far it's pretty interesting.  A review will follow after I'm done. 

I also won a full manuscript edit from Michael Knost, local editor and author of Writers Workshop of Horror.  We discussed the rewrite of the first chapter of my book and I learned a lot.  In the opening scene I go into a lot of detail about the setting and a bike race my heroine is competing in.  Then, I get to the action where she crashes, is knocked unconscious, and has a vision of her father's murder.

Mr. Knost advised me to do away with the build up and start with the crash.  He said most publishers only read the first five pages of a book before deciding whether it goes into the slush pile.  With such a small window of opportunity to prove one's worth, the author must begin with a hook that entices the editor to read further.  

Although it pains me to remove the prose I spent hours agonizing over, I have to take the long view. This said, I spent most of this morning re-writing the re-write of my first chapter.  If the truth be told, it is more action packed than the first draft, or the second one, which is it???? I 'm sooo confused.   Has anyone else ran into a similar problem with their opening chapter, or am I the Lone Ranger here?  I'd be interested to read your thoughts. Until next time happy writing.


  1. My WIP starts with a dead body, but there is little action. All in all it's not really that much of an action novel. I haven't had anybody critique what I've done so far, but I'd hate to have to change the opening.
    The Book Festival sounds fun. I've yet to go to one. They have a really big one here in Los Angeles every spring, but I've never bothered going.

    Tossing It Out

  2. I think a dead body would be an attention grabber(: What type of novel are you writing?

    Opening ones work up for scrutiny is always difficult. However, in my experience, a second set of eyes can be useful in catching plot holes, pov shifts etc.

  3. The novel is a spiritual journey inspired by the Biblical Book of Jonah in which the main character is a young man involved with drug dealing and criminal organizations.
    I will definitely be looking for other sets of eyes once I've finished. Or even if I had an opportunity like you had to have someone read my first chapter and start me off with suggestions that could be advantageous.

    Tossing It Out

  4. Excellent advice from Mr. Knost. The beginning is the most important part of the manuscript. Editors and agents are looking for a reason to say no - at least that's the theory I keep hearing. So our job is to entice them to say, "I want more." We do that word by word. Sentence by sentence. Paragraph by paragraph. Chapter by chapter.

  5. Arlee, FWIW, you've piqued my interest. My WIP., is also inspired by the bible. It is allegorical to the book of Revelation and also references Job. The story is a supernatural fiction that begins in the sixteenth century Mayan jungle, and ends in the twenty-first century White House. Good luck on your book.

    So true Carol. Hooking the publisher word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph and chapter by chapter is easier said than done.(: I've always said what I lack in intellect I make up for with tenacity. Hopefully my hard work will pay off someday.

  6. Well done for winning the manuscript edit!

    I sympathise completely with the first chapter angst. I've just finished a final-for-now draft of my WIP - but have scrapped my first chapter to write it again entirely. It's so difficult to get it right, especially when you know you're likely to be judged so quickly and so harshly on it by potential agents/publishers.


  7. Thanks for the kind words Katie and Kudos on finishing the final draft of your MS. You must be so relieved. Your comment about the first chapter is spot on. It's very difficult to perfect that first chapter. I guess if it were easy everyone would be writing. Eventually we'll get it right. Best of luck on your journey to publication.

  8. He gave you good advice. Agents and editors usually know before the first 5 pages. You'll get used to killing your darlings/prose.
    The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is excellent, I highly recommend it. (I think full price is $10, but you can probably get it on Amazon cheaper, or borrow it from the library.)

    Oh, this is my first time here. *waves* Nice to meet you. :)

  9. Hi Lola, and welcome. I will check out the book you recommended. Looking forward to getting to know you better.

  10. I envy you attending the Book Festival. Maybe one day this weary blood courier will get published and get enough free time to such things.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting, Roland

  11. I have a tendency to write and rewrite my openings several times. Openings are so important. His advice was spot-on.

  12. Roland, I've read your excerpts and really enjoyed them. I think your well on the way to getting published.

    Thanks for stopping by Nicole. I know what you mean about re-writing the opening to your novel. So far, I've written four drafts of my first chapter. Hopefully, the fifth one will be the charm.(: Take care.


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