Janet Silver of the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth agency stopped
reading around the 250-word point:
1. Generic beginnings: Stories that opened with the date or the
weather didn’t really inspire interest. According to Harmsworth, you
are only allowed to start with the weather if you’re writing a book
about meteorologists. Otherwise, pick something more creative.
2. Slow beginnings: Some manuscripts started with too much
pedestrian detail (characters washing dishes, etc) or unnecessary
|By Rose Brigid Ganly|
3. Trying too hard: Sometimes it seemed like a writer was using big
words or flowery prose in an attempt to sound more sophisticated. In
several cases, the writer used big words incorrectly. Awkward or
forced imagery was also a turnoff. At one point, the panelists raised
their hands when a character’s eyes were described as “little
lubricated balls moving back and forth.”
4. TMI: Overly detailed description of bodily functions or medical
examinations had the panelists begging for mercy.
5. Clichés: “The buildings were ramrod straight.” “The morning air
was raw.” “Character X blossomed into Y.” “A young woman looks
into the mirror and tells us what she sees.” Clichés are hard to avoid,
but when you revise, go through and try to remove them.
6. Loss of Focus: Some manuscripts didn’t have a clear narrative
and hopped disjointedly from one theme to the next.
7. Unrealistic internal narrative: Make sure a character’s internal
narrative—what the character is thinking or feeling—matches up
with reality. For example, you wouldn’t want a long eloquent
narration of what getting strangled feels like—the character would
be too busy gasping for breath and passing out. Also, avoid having
the character think about things just for the sake of letting the reader
know about them. (Via Writer's Digest)