Monday, November 2

Surfacing in the Slush Pile

We all know literary journals are swamped with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of submissions.
We all believe our own submission is the 'cream of the crop' (except if we're using cliches like that it isn't).
Yet we all receive rejections, more rejections than acceptances.

Slush pile readers face dauntless manuscripts. So it's no surprise that many toss aside a submission after reading no further than the first paragraph.

If you want your story to rise above the others in the slush pile, to stand a chance at being placed before an editor's eye, then you need to craft a fabulous, flawless first paragraph.

Elements of a Fabulous, Flawless First Paragraph:

1. A protagonist we care about.
2. A story goal or theme.
2. Demonstrate in details.
4. No mistakes.
5. Hook the reader.

1. A protagonist we care about

    Consider including in the opening paragraph any or all of these aspects: her goals, fears, needs, quirks,

2. A story goal or theme.

    Using dialogue, a particular action, a symbol or touchstone to give the reader an understanding, an expectation of what to look forward to in the story.

3. Demonstrate in details.

    Don't tell the reader he loves her, express it using the senses, specific details, and/or figurative language. Make it unique.

4. No mistakes. 

    Check the spelling, grammar, sentence structure. But go beyond this, no cliches, no repetition of words, no use of common words, no passive voice.

5. Hook the reader.

    Focus on the final sentence of the opening paragraph. Is there an element of tension, uncertainty, doubt, anticipation? What can you add to this sentence to hook the reader enough to read the second paragraph?

1 comment:

  1. Great points to remember. It certainly satisfies the reader to have all of this at the git-go. :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews