When an agent or an editor considers a novel, every detail matters. Consider the following:
- Don’t let your writing get in its own way. Sometimes a clever turn of phrase can actually pull the reader out of the story, so be careful.
- Make the premise of the story clear from the beginning, and throw conflict in early on. If it takes too long for the reader to become invested in your characters, or even to figure out what the story is about, they probably will put the book down and not pick it back up again. An agent or editor is no different. They're looking for something they think will be commercially successful.
- Give your characters desire and urgency (goal and motivation). Characters who are not driven are boring. And keep upping the stakes.
- Avoid introducing everyone all at once. We've all read that book where by page three there have been ten characters already introduced. It's a struggle to keep them all apart and figure out who's important and who's not.