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Wordsmith Wednesday: Strong Opening Paragraphs

Welcome to Wordsmith Wednesday: Strong Opening Paragraphs!

In this monthly feature, we’ll analyze strong opening paragraphs by looking at examples from both published books and unpublished manuscripts.

In last month’s column, I invited members of our Ruby community to submit their own Opening Paragraphs for kudos and feedback. 

Our first volunteer is Kylie!

Ruby Reprise – First Page Reads

It’s well past midnight and my post for the day isn’t done. Therefore, I’m bringing out an oldie but goodie. This post was originally published in 2010, but is still just as relevant today. I hope you enjoy…

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Recently I had the pleasure of sitting in a session of first page reads, hearing feedback (i.e. their actual thoughts as if we weren’t in the room) from agents and editors as pages were read to them. I’ve done this several times over the past few years, and though it’s one of the more brutal things to sit through (whether it’s your work being read or someone else’s), I’m always grateful for the time these industry professional give to do this, as so much can be learned from this one experience.

Since this was so fresh in my mind, and with the permission of a handful of people who were brave enough to submit their first pages, I bring to you some of the pearls of wisdom gleaned from my recent experience.

I’ll start with some of the specific statements that, although they did apply to a specific read, they easily apply across the board. And remember, just because one person says the following, doesn’t mean they all agree.

The Latest Comments

  • Elizabeth Langston: You’re right–and it is a powerful lingering impression as the last phrase....
  • Darynda Jones: I like what you did here, Beth. I also like the first one. I like the line “determined to...
  • Elizabeth Langston: So I said to lead with city-keeper, and I didn’t do that. Let me take another stab....
  • Darynda Jones: Great pitch, Jenn! I love what you did with it, Beth. This stuff is so hard. LOL
  • Elizabeth Langston: I think this pitch is in good shape. But if I could try anything, I’d want to lead with the...

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