Writing Nonfiction Books (Part 9)

Now look at the opening sentence and paragraph of the chapter you are working on, or at the section of that chapter. Do you have a strong hook? Does the reader want to keep reading? Many publishing houses and agents receive 5,000 to 10,000 proposals a year. If the editors aren’t impressed by the first paragraph, they may not continue reading.

For many authors, beginnings are the most difficult part of the manuscript to write. After reading thousands of book proposals that come through our manuscript critique service, I see that it often takes the author two to three pages to reach the meat of his or her message. You will probably spend more time rewriting your lead paragraph and your first chapter than any other part of your book. Beginnings, for me, are the most difficult part of a manuscript to write.

Don’t keep working on the beginning of a chapter, editing the material over and over again. Go onto another chapter and come back later with fresh eyes to the previous material. Writing requires a great deal of editing, but it helps not to dwell on one section for too long at a time.