There are many things publishing professionals look for in your first pages and chapter: voice, storytelling personality, if the story starts in the right place, showing vs. telling, grammar, grasp of the English language, and more.
As a freelance developmental editor and former literary agent, I usually knew after the first few pages or chapter if the manuscript was ready or not.
How is that possible without reading the entire manuscript?
As many of you know, most writers edit the first chapter about a thousand times more than the rest of the book. That’s for two reasons—the first, is because it’s when readers will decide whether or not they want to keep reading your book; and the second is simply because those are the chapters literary agents will look at in a submission. For both the reader and agent, it’s a make-or-break moment to decide whether or not this story is worth reading.
Therefore, if the writer’s first chapter (the chapter that’s supposed to be the cleanest/most thoroughly edited) has some obvious holes in it, it then suggests these concerns (such as info-dumping) carry throughout the whole manuscript.
Let’s start with the one I see most often.
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