Monday, March 30, 2015

My Review of The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

 
In preparation for submitting (or possibly self-publishing) my novel, I decided to pick up a few books on writing and editing as a reference/inspiration. That's one reason I got On Becoming a Novelist from the library. On that same trip, I also found The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. Though I checked it out, I initially hesitated over reading it, since it seemed so...business-like. One of my primary objections to the traditional publishing world is how narrow-minded and stuffy it seems. Everyone claims to be searching for a "unique, original voice!" that happens to sound exactly like Stephanie Meyers, Steven King, or James Patterson. Still, I figured if I wanted to polish my manuscript, it wouldn't hurt to read what agents and editors were looking for when they scanned the first few pages of a submission.

At first, the book seemed to offer the typical advice writers hear all the time: standard format, limit adverbs, basic advice for handling dialogue, etc. Yet, Lukeman gives great examples, and he explains why some of these "rules" or so important. Still, I couldn't help skimming over advice I'd read a million times before (the next person to chirpily tell to me "show, don't tell!" will end up with a terrible case of the smack-downs). As I read further into the book, I found that Lukeman's more in-depth chapters were the most helpful. Anyone can write about common grammatical errors or annoying stylistic quirks, but rarely have I read advice on subtlety, tone, and characterization. Lukeman has keen insights into what gives great literature its power.

Overall, this book is worth reading if you're an aspiring writer, though more experienced writer may want to skip the opening chapters. It's motivated me to re-edit my novel, and that alone makes up for the fine I have at the library for keeping it so long:)   

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