I've got a book that I think is interesting and action packed - a traumatic scene begins right in the prologue, but chapter one is a bit slow while I introduce characters, the setting, and weave history of the time into the beginning of the plot. Chapter two and the rest of the book are almost non-stop action, secrets and mystery - in essence much more fascinating reading than Chapter one. But make no mistake, the slow scenes in Chapter one are essential because they begin events for the rest of the story, and give the reader an idea of the psychology of the characters.

I know that different agents have different requirements for the length of the text to be submitted initially. My question is: when it comes time to submit this manuscript to an agent (very soon), can I include the Prologue, a small portion of chapter one (with a note that some stuff has been clipped) - (also making sure that I've clipped it at a place which doesn't leave the agent hanging - a place that could be a chapter break) and then also include the beginning of chapter two which launches back into action?

The reason for doing this is to peak their interest. I'm kinda thinking that a ruthless agent won't really bother with my script if I submit the Prologue and Chapter one without anymore of the script. In addition to the above, do you think that a submission with a Prologue, Part of Chatper one and the beginning of Chapter two will be confusing for the agent?

Basically is it ok for anyone to carefully select certain parts of their manuscript to submit as long as they are careful that it won't confuse the agent and it makes logical sense?

1 Answer 1


You submit what their submission guidelines tell you to submit, nothing more, nothing less, nothing different. If you don't follow the guidelines, they won't even look at you.

And the guidelines will always, always, always, want the first chapter if they want any chapters at all. No agent, no editor, no reader, is going to plow through a boring first chapter to get to the good stuff. Agents are in the business of making a living by selling books. They have no interest in representing books that won't sell. Books with boring first chapters don't sell.

The only thing you can do, to have any hope of getting an agent interesting in representing you, is to rewrite your first chapter so it is interesting. You may think that chapter one is full of essential stuff that you need to establish first in order to get to the good stuff. But that is not how storytelling works. You have not learned to be a storyteller until you have learned to establish the background as you need to while keeping the story interesting at all times.

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    Two thing to consider: First, agents are not keen of prologs either. I suspect because they tend to be signs of inability to wrangle a story into the conventional shape. Second, don't confuse action with interest. Action is not interesting unless we care about the characters. The first business of chapter one is to establish sympathy with the characters --another reason why agents always want chapter one.
    – user16226
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 15:25
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    @Williamz902 Get the feedback of some test readers (who are not your friends or family). If they find the first chapter boring, delete it and begin the story with chapter 2.
    – user5645
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 15:28
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    @what Every chapter is going to be boring until sympathy is established. Simply deleting chapter 1 is no guarantee that sympathy will be established in chapter 2.
    – user16226
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 16:00
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    Rename the prologue "Chapter 1" and extend it so it deserves that name. Done. :-)
    – Thomas
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 17:11
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    @Williamz902 Mark has some good points about the first chapter. Yes, you need the set up, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring. Set up can be very intense if you do it right. I can show you how in the chat if you're interested. Just let me know. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 17:53

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