Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The First Five Minutes

Hello! I hope everyone had a great week of writing.

I recently took an online writing course through the Writer's Digest forum titled, "The First Five Minutes", and let me just say that it was enlightening! I learned so much! I wanted to share with my fellow writers a top 5 list of things that will ruin your readers' first five minutes with your manuscript.

#5: Having too much backstory in your first two pages!
#4: Internal Monologues (Don't begin your story in your character's head!)
#3: Opening with a dream (It lets the reader down to know everything they learned was a hoax)
#2: Too little dialogue/Too much dialogue

And the number one mistake to make in the First Five Minutes... (drumroll please!)

#1: Opening with a phone ringing or an alarm blaring!

I know what you all are thinking...There are a lot of published novels that begin this way. You're right. However, according to the editors giving the course, these techniques are so overdone that it doesn't give your manuscript that original feeling.

So, here is the gist: Open dynamically, not statically!

Open with action, establish the main character with tight details, have your main character interacting with someone else with just the right amount of dialogue.

Remember, the first five pages of your manuscript should move the reader forward!

Hope you learned something...

Now, go write!



  1. Thanks for this. The second novel I wrote starts out with the guy waking up. Or it did before I added action-packed prologue. Now the prologue is too action packed and the rest of the book needs to step up! lol!

  2. Thanks for posting this Melissa. I saw the link to this in a comment you wrote in the group 'Critique Corner' in Writer's Digest Community. It's very helpful!

  3. Glad you found it helpful, Carolyn! It was a great class. Good to see you here!!