Hot tip for any aspiring writer who may have chanced on this blog:
The two books you simply have to read are The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. The first book's as scary as anything by Stephen King and shows how agents do, and must, judge manuscripts on the strength or weakness of the first five pages. (One long nonfiction book was rejected after speed-reading a single page picked at random from the middle!) Impossible to read this book and keep any hope of having fifty or a hundred pages to get a tale in gear!
The second book covers everything from dialogue to pacing, description to characterization, with superlative examples of the way to fly. Writers could do worse than reread this great text once a year.
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