Friday, November 8, 2013

The First 250 Words

This morning on the SCBWI Blog, I found a link to the Fifth Annual YA Novel Discovery Contest from Serendipity Literary Agency. Contestants are requested to submit the first 250 words of their novel. 

I opened my manuscript and selected a bit less than a page then checked the word count. After a few tries, I discovered that 249-words landed at the end of a sentence. Then I copied and pasted that section into a new file and tried to imagine myself as an agent or editor reading it cold. I asked these questions. 

Is opening compelling?
How many characters appear in the first 250 words?
Is it clear who these characters are and what their relationships are?
Is the reader given a clue about the novel’s main problem?
Is the genre of the novel obvious?
Can the reader tell where the scene takes place? 

This is a lot to be answered on a single page. Certainly the most important consideration is having a compelling opening. 

My answers are: 
The first paragraph still needs work.

I haven’t decided if I will enter the contest.


Buffy Silverman said...

What do you have to lose? Go for it, Ann.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Buffy, I might - if I get that first paragraph rearranged.