The 1st-10-pg mistakes I hate: Part-2

I have been critiquing for a while already. Reading many manuscripts—often just the beginning of the few chapters—I find myself repeating the same points to everyone. So, I thought, I would point them on my blog and add the link from the next time along with the feedback in case I’m giving a free critique.

1. Telling, not showing: Just admit it. No matter how many times you hear it, you are always delivering your first draft just because you found someone who is critiquing for free, for cheap. Everyone’s first draft is mostly telling, even mine. Please, rewrite and show and show 'through the character.' A long page only about setting description is basically the author ‘Telling the setting’ instead of ‘showing through the MC.'

2. People are taking a shower? They are rubbing dot-dot-dot-brand conditioner and dot-dot-dot-brand essential oil? And it’s happening for 2 pgs/1 pg/ 1 para? Even if the character dies in the bathtub, getting shot/drowned/heart-attack/or whatever—I quit. Thank you. Absolutely no description of the shower in the first 10 pages or even the whole manuscript unless there’s strong conflicting expositions, or another character present in the shower-scene giving info, showing conflict; think: inter-family conflict in a public spa or maybe a hot-romantic-scene-coming-as-a-surprise or the Avengers planning their next mission while having their last shower--never mind--tried to make it sound like 'The Last Supper.'

3. Tea-coffee-kitchen scenes: The same goes for scenes of making/ taking tea while breathing fancy air and thinking about the weather. Not in the first 10 pages, not in the entire MS, please. Unless it’s a scene of conflict with other characters. Think a scene where Joker and Batman are taking tea and having an intense conversation but in extremely low volume, and we all know anytime a fight will break out—sounds super-intense and conflicting—right? Such, tea-coffee-kitchen-cooking-scenes--I don't mind.

4. Backstory? What s/he did in the past? How she came here? It doesn’t matter in the first 10 pages if I don’t get to like your MC first. Make me love your MC, and make me care for him/her enough, so I might want to know more about his/her past. It’s like dating, or knowing a new person. We don’t straight ask, “tell me your whole life history,” on our first conversation. Initially, what makes us like our partner in the first meet-up? Maybe he asked me about art or yoga or quoted some philosophical lines from a book I liked? Or showed me the depth that a typical man/ woman doesn't show? Aren’t those subtle ‘now-moments’ that make us like our partner, thinking s/he might be similar to me? So, give me those present moments that make me feel like the MC is similar to me/ my tastes.

5. You are explaining unnecessary techs (which is basically setting descriptions again). But still, if you think you are building a world while making me feel like there is no one ‘living’ in that world, then your MS has a major issue. Remember, I wouldn’t care what a ‘Nimbus-2000’ or ‘Sectumsepmpra’ can do if there were no 'the-boy-who-lived' or no 'Severus Snape vs James Potter.'
While writing a Sci-fi are you starting with giving different names to techs that already exists? Hold on. Call computer a computer, laptop a laptop, email as email. You don’t have to start giving weird names to every tiny thing in the sci-fi world (which doesn't even appear much in the first place) and don't start explaining what stands for which purpose. You are writing a novel, not a thesaurus. You don’t have to say, there’s a different mail-bot-system that delivers mails at every door unless the MC is receiving a mail-in the scene. Just saying the ‘mail-drone delivered the parcel’ is enough. You don’t have to start dissecting the mail-bot and explain how it works.

If it’s a spying device by a seemingly-Utopian-government-system like that in 1984, you can describe the bot in an ironic/mocking manner from MC’s voice rather than explaining the bot's coolness like my old-physics teacher explains her non-fiction topics or worse--as a boy explains the features of his new toy. The straight rule for tech-descriptions—don’t put them on the first few pages if they are not needed by the MCs in the scene. Unless your MC is a tech-geek who really starts dissecting every tech s/he sees in her/his mind like Po starts blabbering out every tiny history behind the Kung-Fu historical artifacts he sees in the monastery (referring Kung-Fu Panda), which is basically a character-building rather than settings building. So you don’t need those tech descriptions unless your 'character needs it.' No matter how harsh it sounds, it's not 'your' story, it's your 'character's story.'

Read more on Novel Writing 

If this post helps you, please share it. It inspires me to write more such posts.

***A few other writing bloggers liked this article and posted it with my name as the guest author. If you find me there, support them, too. We all are trying to make the craft more available for the authors who are desperately looking for the right materials, despite the fact that life and living push them hard at the walls most times. If you can relate, please know, you're doing a great job! Hats off to anyone who stays in the creative lines of work, and hats off to their near ones who support them.

#First 10 Page mistakes all authors do
#Make the opening pages right
#What's wrong in the first few pages?
#How to make the first pages engaging?
#How to write the irresistible opening of a fiction?
#Fiction writing.
#Writing the first chapter


  1. I don't think Batman and Joker will be enjoying tea anytime soon. Probably Mad Hatter and Batman...


Post a Comment