The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
by Noah Lukeman
Amazon rating
Critique Circle rating 
Release Date2005-01-01 (added to CC 20 May 2004)
Amazon Sales Rank5,096


Whether you are a novice writer or a veteran who has already had your work published, rejection is often a frustrating reality. Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it's the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it's the job of the writer to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages.

The First Five Pages reveals the necessary elements of good writing, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, journalism, or poetry, and points out errors to be avoided, such as

* A weak opening hook
* Overuse of adjectives and adverbs
* Flat or forced metaphors or similes
* Melodramatic, commonplace or confusing dialogue
* Undeveloped characterizations and lifeless settings
* Uneven pacing and lack of progression

With exercises at the end of each chapter, this invaluable reference will allow novelists, journalists, poets and screenwriters alike to improve their technique as they learn to eliminate even the most subtle mistakes that are cause for rejection. The First Five Pages will help writers at every stage take their art to a higher -- and more successful -- level.

Member Reviews
(3 May 2011)
It's on my desk or in my briefcase, not on a shelf. I refer to it weekly. I have high-lighted it, underlined it, dog-eared it, memorized lines from it. And it's not just about the "first five pages." Why can't all craft books be so clear, direct, and simple.
(27 Nov 2010)
Very useful book! Full of old and new information (depending on your current skill level ), and really gives an idea of what to look for when editing your own work. It's also useful for getting an idea of what doesn't work and why. That's the big one. It's great to hear a rule ad nauseam, but it's quite another to have the reason behind the rule explained, with examples to illustrate each point — in addition to suggestions for fixing those problems, and exercises to expand your skills for the future.
Great for any one with an interest in improving their manuscripts.
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(12 Mar 2007)
I love this book! I have a lot of writing reference books, but this one comes from an agent. One of the things I like most is that he does not sugar coat anything, he gives it to you straight. He tells you straight up that editors and agents are looking for any reason at all to toss your manuscript, and tells you how to make them want to go on.
(27 Sep 2006)
I read this book shortly after writing 120 pages of my novel and realizing that it stunk.

Very helpful in shaping my novel into the (almost) publishable shape it's in.
(11 Jan 2005)
Even though it's the basic stuff that most writers already know, this book covers things that will prove invaluable to any writer preparing their manuscript for an editor. It also gives an interesting insight to how the mind of an editor actually works.
(26 Sep 2004)
I can't tell you how much you can get from this book. Lukeman knows his stuff, and shares it all with you. I found this a top-flight reference, packed with ideas that work and suggestions to make your writing get through the slush pile - or at least have a MUCH better chance at it!

When I was an editor, I would have killed to have this book to give to every writer I knew or worked with. If they had used it, my workload would have been so much lighter! That's how good this book is. Gini
(26 Aug 2004)
This comes highly recommended to me be another CC member.
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