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  • Rachel Allen Dillon

Delete the First 25 Pages

I've submitted to three literary agents the past couple of weeks and was rejected by all of them. The fastest rejection came in under 12- hours. But, the agent was kind enough to give me one sentence of coaching that forced me to rethink the beginning of my story.

I've gone to workshops run by Donald Maass, and Martha Alderson, and so many SCBWI conferences I've lost count. And yet I didn't head all of the knowledge bestowed upon me when it came to the beginning of my young adult novel, The Spider's Song. I began in the wrong place.

So, this week I got out the scissors and deleted 25 pages. I thought, oh my gosh, the work I'll have to do to weave in all I removed. A few days later, after reworking the new beginning and first four chapters I realized I didn't need those 25 pages much at all. My characters were supported and the plot arc totally intact. The beginning now has a hook and I show versus tell why my protagonist is a special kid with a lot of growth potential.

It's so easy to be married to the beginning of your first and second draft of a story. I get it. So much time and effort went into them. But letting them go and getting to the meat of the story faster is better, I just needed the reminder. The one thing that the agent who rejected me stated, in not so many words, is that my query and synopsis are on track. Now that I've got the right beginning, I'll jump into the hunt again.

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