The First Five Pages / by Karie Luidens

My review of...

The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
Noah Lukeman
Touchstone, 2000

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This is a quick, easy read that’s worth a writer’s time if he or she is looking to attract a literary agent’s interest. The opening section in particular focuses on making a good first impression when querying, in which someone must judge your work based on the titular “first five pages” (or less). 

The rest of the book is essentially generic advice on writing, some of which seems obvious to me but all of which is legitimate. I hope that every writer is aware of these principles long before they start looking for an agent, but we all know that’s not necessarily the case. At any rate, it never hurts to be reminded of some basic elements of wordsmithing and storytelling, right? 

As Lukeman notes in the introduction, “There are no rules to assure great writing, but there are ways to avoid bad writing.” I’d say this book won’t assure you an agent’s interest, but it does offer ways to avoid getting immediately tossed from the slush pile. Again, being such a quick read, it’s at least worth skimming.