What #RevPit editors expect from your first pages
Let’s kill some of those first darlings
I don’t know about you, but I love my first pages. I love them so much I’ve read them just about 5 billion times.
That said, it can be really hard to change those first pages… or better said: It can be really hard to want to change those first pages. But, as writers, we should always keep this annoying (But, helpful! It’s helpful!) piece of advice in our back pockets:
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”
― William Faulkner
All of them? No, Bill, please not all of them! In any case, if you are gearing up your submission for #RevPit this year (2019), here is some sound advice from the editors that is applicable to all writers—#RevPitters or not!
WHAT EDITORS WANT TO READ IN YOUR FIRST PAGES
“I’m more likely to be hooked if the first five pages are rooted in a scene with a goal and stakes (doesn’t have to be dramatic, just present […].” —Sione Aeschliman
“Voice. I know, I’m sure all of us want a strong voice. But truthfully, half of what will catch my eye is how strong your voice is and how well you know yourself as a writer.” —Carly Bornstein-Hayward
“Jump right in to the story. I want to experience something along with your character.” —Editor Cassandra
“I also feel most drawn into stories where the opening pages give me a good sense of who the main character is and what they want out of life.” —Elizabeth Buege
“If you’ve got me deep in the REM sleep of a narrative dream from the start, you can bet I’ll be requesting additional pages.” —r. r. campbell
“[…] I’m looking for five elements to be handled well in a sub: voice (I know y’all hate reading that, but it’s true), starting with a scene already in progress, emotional connection to the main character, conflict, and orientation to the MC’s world and story (including characters introductions, world building, backstory, exposition, etc).” —Jeni Chappelle
“I’m looking for escape; if you can make me escape, you’ve snagged a new reader.” —Tera Cuskaden
“Slow down! Show me your hero’s life, show me something is amiss, creatively hint at the villain, and intrigue me as much as you do your hero.” —Kyle V. Hiller
“A great opening line will always make me keep reading. I want to get a clear sense of both character and stakes right off the bat […].” —Holly Ingraham
“I’m all about character-driven books. I’m drawn into a book when in the opening pages I find myself thinking “’I need to know more about this character.’” —Kyra Nelson
“I need a clear POV and I need the inciting incident to become invested. Leaving me wanting more by the end of the first chapter is a surefire way to win me over.” —Michelle Rascon
“When the narrative voice meshes with the voice of a character, magic happens.” —Maria Tureaud
“I love when a story has an opening line that grabs me by the shoulders and practically shouts in my face, “Are you listening to me??” That line better be something that no one else can write, that makes me see something no one else can show me, makes me feel something on the back of my neck, and keeps me glued to the end of chapter one, where there should be yet another hook to keep me turning pages.” —Jay Whistler
“I like manuscripts that give me a chance to get to know the main character and their world. I want to feel like I understand the main character and the conflicts and wants that are driving them forward in the story. […] it all comes down to character, character, character in those first pages.” —Tiffany White
Speaking of conflicts, make sure all your characters have them! Download my free GMC (goals, motivations, conflicts) Worksheet in the Treasure Box.
All of these quotes come from the editors’ pages with in the official #RevPit website. Be sure to visit the site and read the full responses for each editor in their Q&As.
Whether you are submitting for #RevPit this year or not, the editors offer some really great advice that would be silly for you not to read!
Good luck, everybody! Keep writing! Keep finding joy in your words!