How to Make Your ENTIRE Novel Contest-Ready PART 1

In approximately one month, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) is opening their 2015 Genesis contest, which is an opportunity for unpublished writers to get their work in front of industry professionals–editors and agents. Many contests like this exist out there. A simple Internet search will prove that. But amidst all the editing and polishing that authors do to their first few chapters, there’s a pitfall that many of them face. . . . They forget to polish the rest of the book!

How to Contest-Ready Your Novel

I read all the time that agents love the first three chapters of submissions only to find out that the rest of the book is terrible. Why is that? Why are writers so in tune to polished “Act 1” that the forget about the sloppiness of Acts 2 and 3? Today will begin a series that will walk you through readying your novel for contests . . . but deeper than that, it will give you a few tips on how to ready your ENTIRE novel. That way, when you win the Genesis and/or send a full manuscript to agents, the second two-thirds will be as polished as the first.

Fish Hook –

Today we’ll be talking about HOOKS, and I’ll share a tip I’ve found to be helpful.

A hook is a line that snags your reader’s interest. These days, many readers are too busy to read a book that doesn’t immediately catch their attention, so within the first line, you’ve got a big job to do. It’s steep, but possible.

But why stop at the first line? Why not the first seven?

Recently, I’ve seen an activity circulating on Facebook where writers are asked to post their first seven lines from chapter one of their novel. This is an excellent exercise in strengthening your novel’s hook. Not only is it fun, it makes writers aware of what their first lines look like apart from the rest of the story. It’s a small blurb–does it make the reader ask questions? Does it inspire them to invest their time in reading on?

My tip for your entire novel? Separate the first seven lines at the beginning of each chapter, as if they were chapter one. Do this exercise for each one.

Want each chapter to shine? Treat it like chapter 1. Try it! Pull out your novel and turn to chapter 9. Read the first seven lines. How would a hook sound in place of what you’ve written? How much more would a reader be invested to continue reading just one more chapter even though it’s 2 a.m.? Once you have the first seven lines of chapter 9 mastered, do it again for chapter 8. And 12, 3, 15, 6, and so on.

Does this take time? Sure, it does. But you’ll be glad you did it when your potential agent or editor says he/she couldn’t put your book down because you hooked him/her the entire way through.

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