“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit
a blank Page.” ~~Jodi Picoult
NY Book Editors
10 Tips to Nail Your First Chapter
This is an extra resource to go along with the original article:
How to Write a Chapter
- Avoid prologues. Start your first chapter as close to the action as possible. Prologues tend to slow down the reader.
- Resist the urge to “set the scene.” Starting with a description of the novel’s world can also drag the story to a snail’s pace.
- Develop a strong narrative voice. The reader connects with a unique voice. Make sure that voice is present from the first word of the first chapter.
- Define the inciting incident that starts your story. Then, start your first chapter right before the incident begins.
- Introduce the protagonist in your first chapter. However, don’t feel as if you need to peel all of the layers of your protagonist right away.
- Set the stakes. What happens if the protagonist doesn’t act?
- Give the reader a glimpse into the protagonist’s motivation. What doesthe protagonist want to happen? What does the protagonist not want tohappen?
- End the first chapter on a page-turner. Give the reader a reason to staywith your story.
- Don’t forget to structure the chapter like a mini-story with an arc.
- Edit out anything in your first chapter that doesn’t propel the storyforward.
It’s never too early to write, boys and girls!
Best Practices for
Designing the Best Back of Book Cover
This is an extra resource to go along with the original article:
How to Create an Engaging Back Book Cover
- Keep the blurb to 200 words or less. Don’t cheat by decreasing the font size.
- Go with the standard spacing between the lines.
- Carry the same design elements from the front cover to the back.
- Choose sans serif text for its legibility.
- Only choose one or two colors for the font text on your back blurbChoose easy to read colors for the text.
- Also, if choosing two colors, opt for contrasting colors. Check out thislink for more information on color contrast.
- Include plenty of white space on your book cover.
- Add reviews/ endorsements from well-known outlets or personalities.Pick and choose the best.
- Don’t include too many reviews.
- Include a professional headshot.
- Consider using a subtitle to ask an engaging question.
- Leave room for your 13-digit International Standard Book Number(ISBN code) barcode.
- Mind the margins. Leave plenty of white space around the borders sothat readers won’t need to move their fingers to read your text.
- Include thumbnails of your other books for marketing purposes.
From NY Book Editors
WHAT’S A QUERY LETTER?
A query letter is a one-page letter sent to literary agents in an effort to get them excited about your book. You have one page and 300 words (or less) to woo a literary agent into falling in love with your story and then requesting your manuscript.
This letter is short, sweet, and definitely to the point.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to squeeze the essence of your 80,000+ word book into approximately 300 words. Talk about mission impossible!
Aside from the near constant rejection we writers face, crafting the perfect query letter is the hardest part of authorship.
Dear Ms. Megibow,
I’m currently seeking representation for my YA novel, FALLS THE SHADOW. Given your interest in science fiction, I thought it might be a good fit for your list.
When Cate Benson was twelve, her sister died. Two hours after the funeral, they picked up Violet’s replacement, and the family made it home in time for dinner and a game of cards.
It’s the year 2055, and Cate’s parents are among the wealthy elite who can afford to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth. So this new Violet has the same smile. The same laugh. That same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all the same memories as the girl she replaced.
She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.
Or at least, that’s what the paparazzi and the crazy anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that, though. She’s used to standing up for her sister too, and she’s determined to do it now—even if proving Violet’s innocence means taking on those protestors and anyone else attacking her family. But when her own life is threatened—not by protestors, but by the very scientists who created her sister’s clone—Cate starts questioning everything she thought she knew about the cloning movement. About herself. About her sister.
And the answers she finds reveal a more sinister purpose for her sister’s copy—and her own replacement—than she ever could have imagined.
FALLS THE SHADOW is complete at 80,000 words, and is the first in a planned series. The manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thanks for your time and consideration!
COMMENTARY BY AGENT SARA MEGIBOW
I’ve been reading slush pile queries for 8 years and can honestly say this is one of the strongest queries I’ve ever read. I get an immediate sense of the world, the stakes, the characters and the conflict. I remember when this came in – the writing was so good I asked for the full that very same day. Strong writing really does catch my attention.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in queries is what I call data-dump. This is when a query is too wordy or too long and is trying too hard to describe the world and/or fantasy elements. Stefanie nails her world-building in this query and I wasn’t surprised, then, to see that she nails the world-building in her book, too. This first line is so haunting and mysterious and evocative, “…and the family made it home in time for dinner…” WHAT?!?!? How awesome is that? Also, I love that I can see Cate’s conflict described clearly in one paragraph – her sister is a clone framed for murder. Obviously Cate loves her sister, but can she trust her? That’s an exciting hook with a ton of tension and conflict. Well done, Stefanie!
All Alberta’s books in paperback or and Kindle are free through Kindle Select. Visit http://www.amazon.com/author/albertasequeira
Co-Founder to AWB
Website for Writers: www.albertasequeira.org
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