I listened to a talk over the weekend from an author with a few published books under her belt and one in front of an editor right now. The premise of the talk was that you have one page to pique the interest of an editor or agent, and maybe up to ten pages to sustain that interest, once piqued. The author had a lot of advice as to what the first page should include, and what the first ten pages should conclude. I thought I'd share that information here. Note, I did not find myself agreeing with the speaker on everything, and much of this is open to debate. I'm sharing it for informational purposes, for people to take and/or leave as they wish, much as I did after the talk. There are plenty of published exceptions to everything below, but the author believed, from her experience and in talking to agents and editors, that having these things will greatly improve your chances of getting published. First Page Essentials: The author was of the view that the following: A powerful first sentence that cuts to the meat of the story being told. An introduction to the protagonist, at the very least, and possibly other important characters. A sense of time and place. A hint at the main conflict of the story. Other devices to pique the reader's interest (action, unique voice or characterization, unusual setting, questions posed, contradictions, etc.). The author then presented the following "checklist" to apply to the first page of your novel: Is my first sentence as compelling, beautiful, and important to the story as it can be? Have I introduced my protagonist? What does my reader know about the protagonist (i.e. is it compelling, interesting etc.)? Have I introduced at least one other character? Is there a sense of time and place? Have I incorporated some other device to pique the reader's interest (see above)? Am I telling or showing? Am I starting with some action or hook? Is there a conflict emerging by the end of the first page? First Ten Pages Essentials: The author believed that the first ten pages should absolutely have all three of the following: A strong or unique voice. A clear setup of the story. A hook. The following checklist was provided to apply to the first ten pages of your novel: Has a unique voice been established? Is it consistent (in other words, don't open with a strong voice on page one, but find that voice fading by the time you hit page ten. Maintain it.)? List all of the things the reader knows about the protagonist by the end of the ten pages. Is it enough? It is interesting/compelling? Do other characters overshadow the interests of the protagonist? Has the antagonist been introduced? He/she should be (directly or indirectly). Does my protagonist have a clear goal? This goal may change as the story progresses, but she should have a clear goal for the moment, by this time in the story. Is there space for the character to make a change over the course of the story, or for their worldview to change? Have I introduced the main conflict or significant tension? Does the beginning of the story predict the end? Not overtly, or in a spoiler sense, but the author was the view that the beginning should somehow foreshadow the ending. Go through the story and highlight all the showing in one color, and all the telling a separate color. Eliminate the telling and replace with showing (this is the advice I disagreed with most strongly). So, there you have it. Lots of room to debate, but I thought it would be useful to pass along at least one person's view from within the industry.