Quick Tip: What’s Happening on Page 20? 50?

A wise critique partner of mine once got to page fifty of one of my manuscripts and said, “Think about what’s happening here. This is page 50!” And although it was still a fairly early draft, I realized she was making an important point. When you’re ready to query a project, agents have varying submission guidelines, and while you need to ensure that every page makes them want to keep reading, there are key points that are even more significant because they may mark the end of what you send to an agent. So as you’re writing/revising, make  a note of the following:

What’s happening at the end of page 5?

At the end of page 10?

At the end of the first chapter?

At the end of page 20?

At the end of page 25?

At the end of the second chapter?

At the end of page 30?

At the end of the third chapter?

At the end of page 50?

At the end of page 100?

Hmm … when you think of it that way, it puts it in perspective how important those opening pages and chapters really are, doesn’t it? The truth is, an agent is going to stop reading as soon as he/she loses interest. That might be on page eleven, so you can’t slack off just because it’s not one of the key points. My point here, though, is that you should be aware of these milestones in your manuscript and make sure they have an extra zing that ensures an agent or editor has to ask for more. I keep a Word document with a list of these key points in my manuscript and update it after each revision in case anything has changed and I need to make adjustments.

That’s all for today. Just a little tip. Anyone else have thoughts on this idea?

Responses to “Quick Tip: What’s Happening on Page 20? 50?”

  1. Elizabeth Fais

    I hadn’t thought about page# milestones either, but you’re right! Even as a reader, I’ll give up on a book if it hasn’t hooked me by page 50. This is a great point to remember even after being well published.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      I don’t pay as much attention with published books, but then it takes a lot for me to give up on a published book. It pretty much has to offend me or have really egregious grammatical errors or writing tics.


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