Those first five pages – setting the hook

All the how-to book writing books, articles, blogs and tweets insist that the first five pages of a novel manuscript are the most important. This is an author’s best chance to set a hook.

This is where readers first decide whether it’ll be worth it to read the whole book. So publishers insist they be gripping. So agents insist they be gripping. In fact, many agents ask wannabe clients to submit only the first five pages.

So do you write those pages to pander to this demand?

I’m rewriting The Murder Plague right now and I decided to give it a try. Here was my problem. The action really ramps up midway through Chapter 1 … on page seven. Too late? I decided it was.

But those first six pages have gone through multiple rewrites. I liked them as they were; at least I did after the first few drafts. What do I get rid of? Continue reading

Eve’s Swath ready for the market, again; The Naive Optimist back in business

imageI’m back, with a new and greatly improved manuscript of my first unpublished novel, “Eve’s Swath” and a reborn commitment to get back into the business of selling my work.

That means back to regular posts here on Unpublished Author’s Diary from The Naive Optimist. Back to soliciting agents. Back to being the eternal naive optimist

Factors added up that threw me off my game for several months. It wasn’t one thing, unless you want to roll out that old “You lost your commitment” thing. There were the baseball races and playoffs. Issues at the old day job and home. A really harsh rejection letter by an agent who read the full “The Murder Plague” manuscript. Things.

After I come back to it all it’s kind of like returning to a cabin in the woods you haven’t been to in a while, looking around, re-familiarizing, checking to see if everything’s still in working order, and wiping dust. And wondering, why was I gone? Why was I gone so long?

I’ll be posting shortly on what I’ve done with Eve’s Swath and what I intend to do with it now that I’ve got a manuscript of which I’m proud. And what the hell I can do with The Murder Plague, of which I’m also still proud, but in which I’ve lost faith.

These are the moments that unpublished authors must struggle through.

Got a bite – agent e-mails asking for my full manuscript


Sometimes you can assume too much. Months go by and you get used to NOT hearing from any agents, or when you do you get those too-damned pleasant-sounding rejection letters until you actually like them.

And then.

I got a bite yesterday – an agent whom I queried dropped me a note asking for my full manuscript. I won’t jinx it by saying who.

After I finished my cartwheels and sent it to her, the first thought of curiosity crossed my mind.


Continue reading