Guest: Margaret West on "Catching the Eye of a Literary Agent"

I’ve been doing a little research recently and have a few tips to share as to why agents may stop reading your first chapter. Stories that open with the date or the weather didn’t really inspire interest. It’s classed as a ‘Generic beginning’. According to Zachary Shuster at Harmsworth Literary Harmsworth, you must only start with the weather if you’re writing a book about meteorologists. Pick something more creative. The first line can make or break a manuscript. Also, in the beginning, try not to add too much character detail or background detail that isn’t relevant to the story.

The pit fall to this is that now you might try too hard to get it right. Don’t use overly bit words or flowery prose to sound more interesting, forced imagery is a turn off. Get your narration clear, don’t lose your focus and hop from one theme to another.

Now we come to the dreaded cliché. When we write they can easily slip in. ‘He was ramrod straight’ ‘Looking into a mirror and narrating what the character can see’ Follow R & R rules to the letter – Revise and Remove. A reality check!! When you begin to write about your character and what they are feeling, make it real. A long narration about how they feel while being throttled isn’t realistic. Wouldn’t they just be fighting to breathe, not feeling the cord pressing against their larynx and so on and so forth. Get real. They’d be making dreadful noises, probably not thinking much except terror. Also, be careful of info dumping. That means writing what the character thinks, purely to let the reader know. If you try and follow these guidelines then maybe, just maybe you will pique an agent’s interest. Good Luck!

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Born in England, Margaret moved to the Kent countryside five years ago to get away from the busy life in London. She married with two grown up children and has worked in various fields of work. She is a Clairknowing medium, Crystal Therapist, Parapsychologist and Psychic Development tutor. She’s been writing over 20 years and has numerous short stories, novels and articles published. Margaret writes romance and paranormals. Incorporating her spiritual experiences, into her books. She can be found online at,, and

Margaret is giving one lucky commenter an ecopy of The Heart Of A Warrior. To enter the contest, you need to leave a comment or question for Margaret. Then to complete your entry, you must leave your email address in your comment or send a message to The winner will be chosen on Sunday, October 17.