It's true. I'm giving you the opportunity to grab me. Really take hold, and hook on. That's what an editor does every time he/she picks up a manuscript from the slush pile.
I know you've all heard that you have three pages to hook the reader. In some cases that's being overly generous. Every word you write from the very first, must keep me glued to your story. Choose wisely, please.
The ever vivacious POD-dy Mouth has a fantastic entry on her blog from yesterday. For those of you who do not know, she is a published author in search of gold in the heaps of POD land to prove that there are fantastic self-pubbed books out there. Her article yesterday is a great example of how quickly a reader can say 'next'.
This is absolutely true for editors and agents. If you hook me through the first sentenance, I will keep reading through the paragraph. If that continues to interest me, I'll keep reading through the page. I'll admit that in a few cases I've been interested through the first few pages only to find myself loosing interest and still keep reading in hopes that what I found on the first pages returns. That's rarely the case, and it is very disappointing.
You might be calling foul right now. How dare anyone make assumptions based on the first few words? Well, I'll tell you. There is a lot to read. Piles and piles in fact. We never run out. I (and any other agent, or editor out in novel land) do not have time to read an entire manuscript just in case there's gold on page 140. There better damned well be gold on page 1. The competition is fierce, and this is a business based on 99% rejection. Oh, and yes, it really is possible to tell a person's style, and ability in the first few words, or pages if the first words are good.