I’m actively looking to add to my client list for science fiction and fantasy. Subsequently, I’ve been reading a lot of sample pages in those genres.
I’m noticing something in the first 30 pages I’m reading—what turns me off mainly.
Now remember, rules are always made to be broken and any writer who can break them well is going to get attention. So, I’m a little hesitant to name my fantasy foibles on this blog but here goes.
Things I’d rather not see start a Fantasy novel.
1. A person gathering herbs in the forest.
It obviously happens more than I think because I’ve lost count of how many submissions I’ve read where this situation is the opening chapter. Herb gathering. Evidently quite popular.
I’m thinking an opening forest scene is going to be a tough go unless something really inventive or original happens.
2. A battle scene.
I always scratch my head on this one. I think it’s a writer’s way to “delve” immediately into the action so to speak. Here’s my problem with it. I don’t know the characters yet. I haven’t got any idea of who to like and who should win or even a good sense of what’s at stake. Not to mention, it’s really hard to do good character development in a battle scene. Characters can only be growing so much when ax swinging.
3. A prologue.
99.9% of the time, the prologue is vague or doesn’t really give me a sense of the writing or the story that’s going to unfold. I skip them as a general rule. As a writer submitting to me, I’d skip including it in your package. Why take up some of your valuable 30 pages only space?
4. A distant third person narrative to start (ie. The boy, the old man, the healer)
This is just a personal foible of mine I think. It’s hard for me to feel immediately connected to the character or the story. I want my emotions engaged from page one.
I’ve put it out there now so you’ll know what will happen. I’ll get an herb-gathering person in the forest during a battle scene prologue submission that’s going to change my mind.