Sunday, March 11, 2007
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
I picked up a book recently that looks like it'll be a big help to me and other aspiring writers. It's called The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, who is a literary agent. (Full disclosure: I don't get a damn thing from that plug.)Though I found it on the discount rack at Barnes & Noble, it's more than a discount item, it's a bargain. I've read several books filled with tips on how to hone your prose and sell it to the right people to move you on the career path to poverty (we write because we love it!), but this book is different. His tips are more practical and matter-of-fact. For example, look at every place you use more than one adjective or (God forbid) adverb; decide which is the most pertinent and cut the other one. Sure, you'll lose a little description from time to time, but most likely you were writing with too much anyway, so let it go. And the exercises are helpful too. From the chapter on adjectives and adverbs, use the first page of your manuscript and identify every adjective and adverb on the page. Now read the page without them. Clearer? Are some of them necessary? Now read the words you removed. Are they commonplace and cliche? Improve or remove. I'm concising his already tight description, but the point is clear.This book may well leap to the top of my list of most helpful books for writers working on their manuscript, and I'll pass it along to my friends who write. Anyone with other suggestions -- and why you suggest it -- feel free to comment!