Just how good are YOUR first 250 words?


This past week, I joined a very simple writing contest. 

Nothing flashy… just a pitch and the first 250 words of my manuscript.

 Now, no matter how this turns out, I did get something out of the experience…

 #1:  I read a few of the other entries, and was able to make some comments on them.  It was enlightening to see what else is out there being queried.  There is some really interesting stuff out there.  And ****GACK**** some of these authors are REALLY talented.  See # 2

 #2:  This contest called for the first 250 words of the manuscript.  YIKES. This is my challenge to you.  Read the first 250 words of your manuscript.  Not the first 300.  Not even the first 260.  THE FIRST 250.  Now, you might say, “The first 250 words of any manuscript aren’t good.  They’re just exposition.”  Well, let me tell you.  There are a few people in this contest who have KICK BUTT first 250 words. 

 It made me start thinking… How many agents/publishers might only read the first 250 words or so of a submission, and just move on if they are not INSTANTLY “wowed” by the work? 

The more I thought about it, the more I decided “Probably a lot of them.”  These people are REALLY BUSY. 

I read an interview with an agent who said they receive 10,000 queries a year.  Think that over.

 I, for one, learned something from this contest.  I am looking closely at my first 250 words again. 

When they were standing out there all alone, I didn’t quite love them as much as I did when they were attached to the next paragraph.


4 responses to “Just how good are YOUR first 250 words?

  1. Jennifer J Randolph

    Looks like the Jennifer’s club here.

    Agreed on how important it is to ‘wow’ with your first 250 words. Getting the reader to want to keep reading for the rest of the book is tricky, especially if you are a new writer.

    One thing I find that helps is writing flash fiction. Set a limit of 100 to 300 words and see how much interest people have. If you have a goal of writing 250 word stories that have to grab attention, you are already going to be good when it comes to longer works.

    Good luck with your querys!

  2. Pingback: Hey! I was a Semi Finalist in that Pitch and First 250 Words Contest! « Jennifer M Eaton

  3. I know what you mean. I’ve changed my first 250 words I can’t tell you how many times. The thing is, I’m happy with mine now. I mean, I’m really happy with them. I guess when I have an editor or publisher come back with some other suggestions, I will take a look at changing them then. I think we need to make our stories the best they can be, but not to the point our stories are no longer ours, but rather fit into some sort of neat little package. I’ve seen so many authors give up their voice, their story, just so they can get published. I think we need to find the balance between the two and stay true to ourselves as writers.

    • Amen Sister! I think your story is great, and I would be hesitant to change anything either.

      Now that I’ve reached the finish line too, and am ready to start querying, I guess I am second guessing. I guess that’s typical