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Review: The First Five Pages

Title: The First Five Pages
Author: Noah Lukeman
Source: Simon & Schuster, New York, p.207 p.2000
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9093-7 (hardcover)

As a struggling writer, I found this book immensely helpful in getting me out of some of the more common mistakes made by novice and not-so novice writers alike. The book's full title is "The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile". Written by a literary agent, it gives an insightful inside look into just what sort of mistakes writers make, and how quickly such mistakes can get your story rejected, either by editors or the readers themselves.

Many of the mistakes he outlines in this book are ones which are easily fixable, and only a couple levels higher than basic Strunk and White. However, even with that, I still find myself struggling to avoid many of the mistakes he describes (e.g. showing vs. telling, pacing, tendencies toward melodramatic writing, etc.). But to help with that, Mr. Lukeman provides exercises at the end of each chapter to allow you to go over your own work and see what a difference the changes he recommends can make.

Overall, I think this book is a great resource for just about any writer. Even if you never plan on trying to sell your work to a publisher, you still have to sell it to your readers, and the problems he mentions in this book can keep your good writing and the story itself from shining through. Finally, being aware of the common errors that are mentioned in this book, it will save you from having to spend as much time on the little stuff when you write, and more time on the big stuff. I highly recommend this book.


(p.s. I found a hardcover copy of this book in the bargin bin at Barnes&Noble for $8)