October 22, 2019

Dialogue in Fiction Book Proposals

Gerke First 50 Pages

Writer’s Digest offers an excerpt from Jeff Gerke’s The First 50 Pages (Writer’s Digest, 2011). (The book was published in early November 2011.)

As Jeff says, “Great dialogue may not get you a publishing contract, but lousy dialogue will often prevent you from getting one. Awkward, unrealistic dialogue is a common reason acquisitions editors and agents will decline the opportunity to publish your novel.”

Good dialog involves imperfect exchanges in which one person only partially answers the questions raise by the other.This is partly because each person is not responding to what the other says, but what the person thinks the other means or intends or “what they think the other person means.”

The title of his book, The First 50 Pages, focuses on “what you do in your opening pages, and how you do it.” In this book, you’ll learn how to:

  • introduce your main character
  • establish your story world
  • set up the plot’s conflict
  • begin your hero’s inner journey
  • write an amazing opening line and terrific first page

In establish your story world, for example, Gerke maintains that you need to show the reader what normal is before this state gets disrupted. I’ve read far too many proposals that open with the hero under attack from another world or recounting in her mind all the terrible things that have happened to her as she watches the school burn–so maybe she did start it.

Since writing this blog, I have finished my first reading, and I like this book very much.

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