chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

F3 – FIRST FIVE FRENZY WITH MICHAEL CARR – VERITAS LITERARY AGENCY October 5, 2012

If you’re like me, you toil for hours editing and fine-tuning the first pages of your manuscript.  You look at the first lines to make sure they are compelling and tight.  You examine the first few paragraphs, hoping  your MC’s voice is already taking hold of the reader.

 

Those first pages are important and that is the purpose of the F3.  To get an agent’s perspective on what works and what fails in those first five pages of a manuscript.  By reading each agent’s comments, I hope you will learn how to make your MS a shining gem that will be requested time and time again.

 

Today, I am proud to share Literary Agent, Michael Carr’s perspective on what is important in those first five pages…

 

Amy:  Many writers have the impression that a great first line is imperative to drawing in the reader. How important is that to you as an agent?

 

Michael: First lines are very important, as is a general hook. Your only goal of the first line is to convince me to read the next line, and the only goal of the first paragraph is to get me to read to the end of the page, etc.

 

Amy:  Many times a writer is told to stay away from common openings like dreams, eating breakfast, riding in a car, etc…What are some common openings you recommend writers stay away from?

 

Michael:  The biggest risk, of course, is having nothing happen in your open, but almost as dangerous is to have too much happening. Cliff hanger openings don’t work because we are not yet emotionally invested enough in the story to care. A story is a three-legged stool of character, situation, and problem, and they must be developed at roughly the same pace.

 

A good trick is to start with a problem, question, or hook that is intriguing without having the stakes be too high and then use that to lure the reader deeper into the story.

 

Amy:  When you’ve responded to a writer to request a partial or full, what was it about their first pages that piqued your interest?

 

Michael: Usually, it’s good old-fashioned storytelling. But this is not enough in and of itself. I’m also looking for a clean manuscript and a professional presentation. I am happy to work with writers to develop their craft, but I need people to have a good set of tools before we start.

 

Amy: : When you’ve responded to a writer to request a partial or full, what was it about their first pages that piqued your interest?

 

Michael: Usually, it’s good old-fashioned storytelling. But this is not enough in and of itself. I’m also looking for a clean manuscript and a professional presentation. I am happy to work with writers to develop their craft, but I need people to have a good set of tools before we start.

 

Amy: : What are some common mistakes writers make in their first five pages?

 

Michael: In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, too many openings consist of authorial throat clearing: weather, white room syndrome, or other ways of the author telling me she is about to start an interesting story, instead of simply diving in.

 

Another big flaw is too much explanation or background. I can’t emphasize this enough: resist the urge to explain. It isn’t the knowing that drives reader interest, but the mystery. Be clear, but don’t give any answers until you have a chance to raise fresh, even more compelling questions.

 

Amy: What resonates with you most in those first pages? Voice? Pacing? Unique concept?

 

Michael: I look for stories that take me somewhere different, while maintaining contact with the universals of good story telling. Good writing brings an element of surprise, whether in voice, word choice, or skillful turns of phrase. I also take a look at the first dialog in the story, because this answers important questions about the skill of the writer.

 

Michael Carr is a literary agent with a background in editing and writing. His work has appeared in markets such as The Atlantic, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Military History Magazine. He works carefully with writers to produce the cleanest, most professional manuscripts. Michael speaks Spanish and conversational French and before joining Veritas had professions as diverse as programming simulators for nuclear submarines and owning an inn in Vermont.

 

Mr. Carr is currently open to queries, and is a generalist who will represent most genres and categories, with the exception of romance and erotica. His list, like most others in the field, is relatively full, and he must be very selective in his choice of new projects to represent.

 

If you are interested in submitting to Mr. Carr, please make sure to check the Veritas Literary website for their guidelines.

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