The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke is an insightful look at what agents and editors are truly looking for in the first 50 pages of a novel. The information is provided by an author/editor in an easy-to-understand manner.
I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Gerke speak at the Writer’s Digest Conference in January and I immediately jumped in line to get a copy of his book signed. He was a terrific speaker who provided lots of examples and explanations. His workshop was one of the best at the conference.
The first part of the book is dedicated to explaining the submission process. Some important points he raised are that your opening lines must hook the reader. He clarifies that starting with action isn’t about blowing stuff up or having someone’s life at risk. IT SIMPLY MEANS IT MUST BE INTERESTING TO THE READER.
He also talks of the three bombs: POV, show vs. tell, and character creation. A problem with any of these can blow up a book and not in an Oprah knocking on your door sort of way.
The rest of the book focuses on what your first 50 pages must do. And it’s a lot. A lot a lot. In this section he touches on how to engage your reader, introduce your main character, establish the main character’s normal, establish the story world’s normal, start the inner journey, and follow the Three Act structure.
As I read this book, I analyzed my two finished manuscripts and tried to think of where I’d missed the mark. Where I needed to work further on them. What was not working in their first 50 pages.
This is one of my favorite craft books because Jeff Gerke’s conversational presentation style is captured perfectly in these pages. I felt like he was talking right to me and sharing his personal experiences. He used lots of movies as examples which made concepts much easier to grasp and apply later to my own work.
This is a must read for any writer submitting their work to agents and editors.