I very much appreciate the high standards of craft to which author and literary agent, Noah Lukeman, invites and inspires writers in his book, “The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile.”

If a writer were to review her manuscript, considering and improving on each of the elements of fiction Lukeman highlights, not only would the first five pages necessarily be strengthened, the entire book would become a significantly better version of itself.(About to re-enter my completed historical novel for yet another thorough edit, I plan to apply Lukeman’s guidance to my book’s 600+ pages.)

There is a great deal of value in “The First Five Pages…” I will quote just two passages for now:

The first is from Chapter 19, “Pacing and Progression:

first five pages“Few writers comprehend the power of pacing and progression. Unlike other elements—such as hooks, characterization, setting, which can be dealt with in isolation—pacing and progression inevitably run throughout the course of the entire piece and are affected by every single last word. They are the central nervous system of the book. Thye are like a spider’s web: tenuous, always ready to collapse, yet potentially strong, capturing and not letting go. One tear in one corner can bring the whole thing down, yet slight patchwork can strengthen the whole. Even the slightest reverberation in the most remote corner will be felt throughout: each strand is separate, but each strand affects the whole.”

And here’s this wonderful paragraph that closes the book:

“The ultimate message of this book, though, is not that should strive for publication, but that you should become devoted to the craft of writing, for its own sake. Ask yourself what you would do if you knew you would never be published. Would you still write? If you are truly writing for the art of it, the answer will be yes. And then, every word is a victory.”

 

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