Once you’ve finished writing, proofreading, editing, and formatting your book, the next step toward getting it published is to try to get a literary agent for representation. While each literary agent’s submission guidelines are different, the submission strategists at Writer’s Relief know you’ll need to prepare a query letter, synopsis, and the first fifteen pages of your novel—and only the first fifteen pages—to effectively query agents. So it’s vital that your first pages make a great first impression, hook your readers, and leave them wanting more! Here’s how to get a literary agent with the first fifteen pages of your novel.
How The First 15 Pages Of Your Novel Will Help You Get A Literary Agent
Some writers might feel the first fifteen pages aren’t their strongest and would rather submit the entire manuscript. But literary agents know these are the pages book buyers will read first, and it’s important they are drawn into the story and want to keep reading. It doesn’t matter how great the middle of your story is or how clever the plot twist and ending are—if your first fifteen pages don’t intrigue the agent or your readers, no one’s going to keep reading.
Writing Tips For Boosting The Impact Of The First 15 Pages Of Your Novel
Begin with an opening sentence that packs a punch. What do you want your very first statement to communicate? Don’t just set the scene. You can create mystery, incite conflict, or start drama all with your first sentence. Not only will it keep the agent reading, but it will set the tone for the rest of your work.
Introduce your hook. The hook tells us who your protagonist is, what their life is like, and how they deal with the conflicts that arise. Set the plot in motion and give the reader someone to root for and a reason to cheer on this character! Use these first fifteen pages to set the tone for the rest of the story.
Add emotion. Your novel can be cleanly written and grammatically correct, but without emotion, the story will be flat and boring. Readers will want to know how your main character feels about what is happening. The emotional response from your protagonist raises the stakes for your plot, and inviting an emotional response will have an agent invested in your novel.
Establish plot, character, and setting. You want to introduce these elements in a way that will intrigue readers so they’ll commit to reading more. Once you’ve completed your novel, go back and reread your first fifteen pages to see if you need to cut anything out or add in certain details. You may even find yourself completely rewriting the opening pages in order to best bring in your plot, characters, and setting.
Avoid too much exposition. While it’s necessary to include details about your plot, characters, or setting, be careful not to treat the first fifteen pages as a setup or prologue for the actual story. Don’t write paragraphs of telling what your character looks like or what kind of weather is happening—show who the characters are through their words and actions; reveal the weather through its effects on the protagonist.
End the first chapter well. Don’t let the first chapter drag on—find a stopping point that will encourage the reader to continue to chapter two! Introduce a new character, add a plot twist, or leave readers in the middle of a conflict so they are eager to know what comes next.
If you can grab an agent’s interest in the first fifteen pages of your novel, you’ll boost your odds of getting a request to see more pages or the entire manuscript—and of ultimately landing a literary agent. Follow these easy writing tips and you’ll be sure to leave readers wanting more of you and your book!
Question: Tell us the title of a book you think has a great first fifteen pages.