The Golden 600 Editing Service--The reason no one is reading your book

What is the Golden 600 you ask? That is the number of words an editor, agent, or reader will read to decide if they want to continue reading your book. 600, that’s all you have to make a strong impression and pique interest. It’s not much space and every word counts. I am here to share my experience working with editors and agents, and help you craft a beginning to your story that will make people want to continue reading. In the industry, this called the hook.

So, who am I? I have three books published through Article94 Publishing and a fourth dropping the end of the month. I have 18 awards and written 23 books and have several shorts published with various groups. I’ve been doing this for ten years and worked with some of the harshest editors and agents to learn how to write a book readers can’t put down.

How this works. You post as a reply the first 600 words of your story, +/-10%, and I’ll reply in another post what works and what doesn’t. I’ll help you with wordsmithing and show you how to make every word count. What I won’t do is correct your grammar, formatting, or punctuation. If it’s terrible, I won’t read it. Those are the basics of writing. This is the advanced course. Those three things you should know how to do. If you think that’s harsh, I once submitted a manuscript with the word ASCENSION spelled wrong on the title page. I got the title page back with a big red circle around the word. They didn’t even read the rest of the manuscript. I specialize in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi and making characters come alive. I’ll read any genre, but I can give extra help to those specific ones. I don’t know how long turn around will be, depends on how many people I get and how busy I am. I will get to everyone.

Payment comes in two parts. The first is homework for you. Read and comment on the first TWO chapters of my book Rebirth. (In the published version chapters 1 and 2 are combined). It has been picked apart by agents and editors as what they look for. The other task is to read the first chapter of my old work, Angelic. This your shot to tell me what I did wrong. I haven’t looked at in years, so let me know. When you’re done reading both leave a “G600” comment at the end of each chapter. When you’ve done both, post you 600 words, and I’ll take a look.

Warning! If you are sensitive, thin-skinned, or can’t take criticism may I suggest a different career? Part of learning to be a writer is to take criticism. I’ll be harsh and maybe unkind, but I will be honest, and I am trying to make you better. There are no guarantees it’ll work for your current WIP, but it will make you better for the rewrite or next story.

Run your submission through Grammarly or something similar. I’m getting far too many basic errors. If I run your submission through Grammarly and find basic grammar, spelling, spacing, or punctuation errors I won’t look at your submission.

Check out these all-stars who’ve improved their books!
Southern Saturday Nights by @hallonn23
The Liminali by @cjtruz
Hungry Skies by @thatCalamity
Slider by @Hinchwood

Lessons! Looking for help on a topic you see on this thread? Check here.
Superlative Descriptions
Prologues
Examples of Good Prologues
Hooks
Cutting the fat out of your writing
Deus Ex Machina

Lesson group members. Get notified any time a lesson drops. Leave a note if you’d like to be included.
@AverySummers @Spider-Hawk @Hinchwood @thisisRoy @Not_Your_Typical_Guy @WilliamTheWriter @SoulBurningBright @Livkuile @Surly_Snowshoe @SisterSpectre

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wow I’m not worthy but I’m going to give it a go ok what next , I’m laughing to myself, this must be what a calm before the storm moment feels like, I can’t spell I can cook, I’m a story telling not a wordsmith and getting on a bit in years, writing is a marvellous way to avoid the grandchildren they can smell money at ten paces and speak a strange language requiring me to by trainers that cost almost 200 pounds, ok this is nerves I’m. going to stop now; back to my book historic horror historical correct in places bye for now ps mature me and the book

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Hello. As this thread is more suited to the Editing section of Story Services, I’m moving it over to there.

Thank you for your understanding
WorldsInsideMyHead :worldsinsidemyhead: Community Ambassador

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Should the 600 come from my first chapter or my prologue/intro? (Have an intro now that I am going to replace with a prologue later). Should my book be completed before applying?

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I will tell you Editors/Agents HATE prologues because they do not tell them anything about your story. It’s also misleading to the reader, because you introduce them to people, places, times and when you get to the actual story it’s rarely any of those and you hit them with a completely new cast, world, etc.

I would look hard at your prologue to see if you need it and if any needed information contained within can be given at a later time. A lot of times prologues are used to set mood, scene, or history and it doesn’t need to be done. If your first chapter doesn’t do that for you, you need to rewrite your first chapter.

I’ll give you an example:
Prologue
Knights fight there way through a castle to a room with a baby in a bassinet. The knights take the baby, hustle it downstairs to a wizard. The wizard escapes the castle and disappears into the mountains with the baby.
Chapter One
Nic is an eighteen year old living among cave trolls in a small village in the mountains…

Tell me how the prologue helps the first chapter? By using a prologue, you’ve given away all the mystery of Nic: who he is, how he got to the cave trolls, why he’s living with them, the introduction of the wizard. All this information you can weave into your story without wasting time on a prologue that the reader isn’t going to care about because you have no established characters they can relate it to.

So, look hard at your prologue and see if you need it. If you must absolutely have to have it, make sure it is giving the reader information there is no other way for them to get.

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So, there are two prologues I am juggling with. One shows of the assassination of the king and the start of the guild that the story revolves around. The other is something that happened to the protagonist when she was younger, yet I don’t quite see it as a first chapter. The first idea is more action-based and shows background to their power, yet the second shows something about the protagonist that the readers will not really ever learn about otherwise–it shows her being discriminated. Yet, the first one shows some deeper plotline than what is presented in the first book (it’s a series of five).

Going by your logic, I should have the second idea be my prologue, correct?

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Why is her being discriminated against important to the plot? Why only discriminated against as a child and not an adult? If this discrimination leaves such a lasting scar on your character, why can’t you show it in the present? What about that event is so significant that it must be shown and cannot be brought into the story any other way?

Like I said, prologues are rarely a good thing and should be avoided, unless absolutely there is no other way of bringing in the information.

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I also have a prologue. It’s only short. In my story, they’re two most prominent figures of history, one evil and one good. No one knows what really happened to them. They both disappeared one day. My prologue showed what happened to them, but the readers won’t actually know their significance till the first few chapters.

Is this okay?

Also should I send the first 600 words of that or the actual first chapter?

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Okay, I’ll do the payment and have you looked at my intro and the start of the first chapter. I have gotten many reviews saying that there is a problem with the book’s start, so maybe you can give some good pointers on fixing it rather than just pointing out the problems.

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Ok, let me see if I can break it down. Ask yourself these questions about your prologue:
Is your story about these two prominent figures?
Do they move the plot forward in the prologue?
Why does the reader need to know this information before the main character?
Why can’t the reader discover the significance along with the main character?

Remember, your story is about your main character, not about historical figures in your world’s past. The reader should take the journey with the main character. This is a trap many inexperienced writers fall into–they start their story by world building. They think it’s important that the reader know all about the world they’ve created, so they try and cram it all into the first few pages. This does not interest your reader. Your reader wants to know who they’re going to take a journey with and why. Those are what I’m looking for when I read your G600.

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No, but they play important parts.

yes, their actions affected the current world the MC lives in.

Because one of the characters is the reincarnation of one of the people in the prologue.

Does the character know they are the reincarnation of one of these people?

Not yet. But there are hints dropped in the first chapter.

Then you don’t need a prologue. Let the reader discover what the main character is when the main character learns what they are. Which do you think is more satisfying to the reader:
The author told me before the story started the MC is a reincarnation of an ancient being. Now I’m just waiting for it to happen as I journey with the MC until they finally discover they are the reincarnation of an ancient being, which I have know since before the beginning of the book.
OR
I’ve been following this MC on his journey and the author has foreshadowed something cool about the MC. I’ve watched the MC grow and come into their own. We’re going along and HOLY CRAP the McGuffin just revealed to the MC they are a reincarnation of an ancient being. That’s what the author has been hinting at. This is what it’s all been leading up to. Wow.

Which do you think is better? I know which I’d choose. I use a variation of the second scenario in BykeChic with my main character.

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Currently, I’m debating on keeping my prologue or to just get to the first Intermission chapter. My readers enjoy the prologue… but I also notice people skipping it too. I’m unsure what to do here because when asked readers say to keep it but I know agents don’t like it.

P.S. My intermission chapters are in 3rd person observing what’s happening behind the scenes with the psychiatrists. My true chapters are written in 1st person with both MCs that’s why they are call intermission chapters since they take a break from the two main characters.

Any advice would be super helpful! Thank you!

Up till this moment, she scanned the area, doubting if her decisions were correct. The murmurs of agony from patients, the apathetic (couldn’t care less) doctors tending to the patients, and afterward a whoosh of a clear and foggy liquid. That was it. Right after that, she would leave.

Doctor Feldstein was her doctor. He was Jewish and had an affinity for smiling those large smiles right before an operation. Most of her thoughts were positive, and optimistic.

The room she was in had several pamphlets, and she read each one. There was one about pregnancy she found interesting. It talked about several ways of contraception, birth control, and described adoption methods.

“Remove your garments,” Doctor. Feldstein instructed earlier.

It was a request that every doctor would give to someone at some point. And a request that every patient had to perform more than once.

She took off her clothes, starting with her shoes and ending with her blouse.

“Can I come in, Cynthia?” the doctor knocked on the door.

‘I’m ready. You can come in,” she replied.

“On the off chance this is unsuccessful, we are not liable to your family members, friends or relatives. Understood?” he said.

“Yes, doctor,” she said, faking a smile, as she started towards the machine, letting hope and happiness be her only thoughts.

Dr. Feldstein shut the metal handle delicately, and a puff of white steam got away through the cracks. The coldness danced, stamping parts of her body with red. At that point, it moved between her fingers, and to her legs, along with her nose; it was all over and she had felt nothing but numbness and solitude. Her bare skin froze, and she thought she would die. But not that; it was a more simple truth: Everything continued for Everyone else, but it paused for her.

(End of Prologue)
Cynthia’s family members thought of her as dead. They treated her as dead. Where she was wasn’t a safe sanctuary, it was a burial with piles and piles of heavy dirt on top, stopping her from coming outside and into the real world. They missed her, and censored what she did as suicide, not as a pleasant future where cars flew, technology unhinged, and peace was successful.

No, that definitely wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t happen.

Humans can quicken death, never slow it down. It was pointless to delay the inevitable. Death was a part of life, slowly encompassing everyone, never discriminating.

Right after the operation, they talked to Dr. Feldstein. Her mother, Becky Gates, decided to be a representative of this very distasteful, unpalatable meeting.

“Hello, Dr. Feldstein,” she said as she walked into the room, noticing the pamphlets and the vast array of blue, white, and black gloves, causing her to decide how or when she should get them, not steal them. According to her, she would simply be borrowing them.

“Hello, Ms. Gates.” he replied, “We told your daughter: we are not liable to your family members, friends or relatives. If any problems persist, or if you do something with the patient, we could file a lawsuit. Understood? She signed a contract, you know. She is an adult. A whole sixteen years.”

“Yes, I do know, Doctor. I came here for a completely different reason though. Can I see her?”

“You may but someone will be monitoring you.”

“Who?”

“My assistant, myself, and the cameras. If any illegal action ensues, there will be a punishment.”

As soon as she walked towards the freezer, a thought ran through her mind: My little girl is alive.

Cynthia looked well and fine. She appeared stable.

In a land far away from earth, there was a gifted race of humans. They were able to connect to different elements of the world through energy known as ticon. They called their race the Dixon. Some connected to fire while others lived off of water. Some could hear the wind sing and some could feel the ground’s life. There were those who connected to nature, whether it be the flower in a meadow or the beast of the forest. Yes, everyone had their own special gift, which they used to live and prosper.

As the Dixons grew, they found it was difficult to live as one people in one place. And so, each person went to a place where they felt best suited. For many generations, the people were separated, so they began to think of themselves as different from each other. They became tribes, each tribe named after the place where they lived. The Mountain tribe, the Forest tribe, the Aqua tribe, the Rock tribe, the Earth tribe, and the Sky tribe.

The tribes saw themselves as nations, each which conflicts with the others. Each tribe thought that the others were ravaging their villages and stealing their resources. There was constant dispute over the borders. If someone so much as saw another tribe, they would attack them on sight. There was no room for negotiation, and a great evil stirred their hearts.

They fought against each other constantly, causing great bloodshed and terror in all the land for decades. There were some Dixons that didn’t want war. Secretly, they began to gather others who were like-minded until they had an entire society. Slowly, that society left their tribes and went to form their own. The Chalde tribe was born.

While the Chalde lived in peace, the other tribes still raged war. A man named Thoran Locktess rose up to lead the Chalde forces and spread peace to the other tribes. Thoran alone held the skills to unite the tribes into one nation. He formed the Council of Sixeen, which would govern the nation. The people declared him the King of the Council, chief over all the tribes. Under his guide, the tribes prospered. His descendants sat on the throne for centuries after.

But then, evil invaded the land once more. It took over many weak and wavering hearts. Carrying out its will, the people poisoned by it sought out to destroy peace. The entire Locktess family was murdered in a day. The nation, in despair from their loss, began to turn away from the principals they were built on. For almost twenty years, the darkness grew larger until it finally made itself known…

Chapter One
It was summer, the fifth moon of the year. Samari had only recently turned seventeen, old enough to leave the clan. The first thing she did was get on a boat to sail away from her life–far away. She had no idea what she would do, having little money, no place to stay, and no job, but she did not care. She was too relieved about finally getting freedom to worry about anything else.

Her mind could not settle enough to let her sleep, so she was up before dawn, starring at the horizon. She could not help but wonder what districts she was gazing at. On both sides of the ship lay fertile green land as far the eye could see. A port appeared every twenty-or-so miles, but the rest of the riverside was dotted with dams and canals that brought water into farms. It was quite peaceful.

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This is awesome.

Mero

Small Sacrifices
A War Begins

Chapter 1

Funny how the mind rewinds history. You can’t change it. But there I was, reliving the past when my phone rang like an alarm clock. It was late July 2001.

“Hello, Rocky here.” I do a lot of work for companies with a three or four letter acronym for names. I inspect industries, mostly power industries or any facility considered a risk to the general public. I had also assisted two of the most active Governor’s agents in our time. Governor‘s agents can arrest even FBI within the boundaries of their state. The only badge bigger is a Marshal’s. But a Governor’s agent gets a lot more done. I had served as a bodyguard and a “professor”, a person who makes plans that work.

“Hello, this is Karen with the FBI.”

What a dumb ass name for a construction company I thought but I said “What a cute name for a company. What’s it stand for?”

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation, sir. I have to make sure I have the right person. Are you… "She was reciting my social security, birth date, and address while my mind was thinking of all my deeds they could be after me for. The list was long. I started at the top, I wonder if the spook ever got a sanction for the Governor. I’ll always regret not killing that son of a bitch decades ago, now I’ll have to fight to keep from getting caged for the rest of my life. “Yep, you got your man again. What can I help you with?” I said in my most innocent tone.

"Well, sir we have opened an investigation on a group you have been fighting for what looks to be most of your life. Your name keeps coming up throughout our investigation for years and years, in several locations all over the country. It is an honor to finally speak with you. Our young inspectors compare you to Melvin Purvis but our old inspectors say Mister Purvis had a lot of help. They say everything you’ve done you did by yourself or with one other person. They say the closest person to you was Oklahoma’s Marshal, Bill Tilghman.” Well this is going better than I expected. The lady took a long breath before she continued.

“All of the agents agree you have done far more than any Federal Agent alive. So, that makes you this nation’s greatest living hero! I could not wait any longer I just had to tell you. The American people are going to know what you’ve done for them!"

I was stuck back on the word “alive” but my soul wanted to go to whatever planet Karen was calling from. Briefly, I envisioned a cluster of agents gathered around one agent in a chair scratching off names from a long list as notoriety got one hero after another killed off. Like some kind of reality game.

The praise felt so elevating I took a slow breath to enjoy it a moment longer. Next, I realized Karen had no idea how powerful the “Foundation” is. “You know Karen; this reminds me of something my brother used to say.” I said.

“What’s that, Rocky?” Karen gleamed.

“Any time you declare war on a couple of thousand people, any one of which can wipe their ass with a hundred million dollars, you might expect some difficulties.” I said.

“Rocky, I don’t know what that means. I don’t think you understand. Everybody is going to know what you have done for them, you’re a hero.” Karen’s voice was excited.

“Karen, you underestimated this enemy. They are an international web with many satellite cells none knowing of the other’s existence. Each working to supply many elite business owners, political leaders, Saudi Royals and who knows, with their addictions from engineered drugs to small children. These children usually end up decapitated. In some cases, the decapitation is a blessing to end their torture. They place handpicked school kids into grooming for key positions. At first, they infiltrated accounting in law enforcement, all of law enforcement branches, including yours, military and politics. Making sure their little workers were perverted enough to be controlled as well as able to get promoted.” How can I convey to Karen that this organization included some of her superiors and their political and banking oversight? Should I start with when it was the Process, then became the Foundation of New York and in 1995 it was joined by a sister Foundation criminal cartel in the same state? That would take a long conversation.

“Rocky, I can’t discuss specifics about the case but that is pretty much what we have found. We’re going to do something about them. We’re pretty big too.” I could tell Karen flowed with pride and as with every FBI agent, I have ever known over confidence.

“Karen, I know of three places they can gather eight hundred seasoned killers at. It would be like lunch money for them to fly in a hundred top mercenaries with the latest military weapons and body armor for all 2500 men to take your building.” Do you get the picture now?

“Sir we share this building with the CIA.” Karen conveyed a little snootiness.

Karen is not getting what I am saying. I’m going to spell this out slowly.
“OK, Karen so how long could all of you hold that building? It would be seconds and not minutes. Am I right? Those files will never see the light of day. The best thing you can do is stash a copy of the files in a small forgotten mid-western Army base. Then you need to transfer away to some distant assignment when your four-year rotation comes up.” I know this enemy better than anyone else “alive” that’s why you called, for advice because you sure do need some.

The phone was silent. What the hell did Karen just hang up on me? “Hey, hello is anybody there?” I was raising my voice.

“I’m here. But you’re scaring me. No one outside the Bureau should know about the rotation it’s how we keep our families safe. But I guess since it is you it’s alright.” Karen’s voice sounded sincerely scared.

Karen has got to be a mother, that is why I’m hitting her hero button.

“Karen, where are you at?” I asked.

“We have a building in a big complex in New York City. It’s Building 7 in a complex called the World Trade Center, why?" Karen was all business now.

“I could come out and figure out how they will make a hit on you. I have mostly run into them taking down aircraft.” Should I mention the M.O.V.E. and the 230 million dollar fee to stop shooting down flights over the US back in the early 1980? Does she even know about it? Karen may not like the mental image of families burning to death, even those working with money from Islamic Extremist Zakawi in New York. There was an infant on board flight 759 when it was over New Orleans on July, 9th, 1982. One of John Africa’s men shot it down with a L.A.W.s from the New York armory heist in December of 1981. A politician had all 230 bucks ready for delivery by March on 1985. My only option was to keep quiet about the HE grenades the M.O.V.E. also had. I never asked what color or background the infant was. It didn’t matter. Not to me, the baby was an American over American airspace; she should have had a life, the baby should have been safe. Not killed in a fire ball with her mother. That was all that mattered to me. Karen may see things differently. Usually files like mine are long but not very detailed, so I said, “I don’t see how that would work with your building. I would have to really spend some time to figure it out. You say you’re sharing office space with the CIA? That could be the answer. Standard Operating Procedure is they wire their buildings with explosives so information won’t fall into the wrong hands. It may be something like that. Cheap for them and pointing away from them. One more thing they will use a magician’s wand” I’m getting tired of this talking already. Do you want my help or not Karen?

“I think you are right about this building being wired with explosives. I remember reading about it when I first got here. What do you mean about a wand?” Karen was curious and her voice expressed her feelings, I wondered about her facial expressions.

“They will use a distraction, likely more than one to misdirect attention from your building.” I said.

"Rocky, I know where we can send the copy!” My mind gave me a picture of a brunette jumping up and down like a little kid.

Karen continued “A place no one would dare attack, the Pentagon." Karen exclaimed.

“I read the Pentagon was built with no rebar. Is that true do you know?” I said in an effort for Karen to make another pic. Bad, idea Karen what part of low profile forgotten mid-western small army base does the Pentagon fit?

“I don’t know, maybe but they are beefing up the exterior with some kind of armor. Come on nobody would ever attack there.” Karen was overflowing with pride and a double helping of over confidence. Maybe I should end this conversation. I could go to her and maybe find a club big enough to beat ideas into her head. I spoke into my phone clearly.

“Well, Karen maybe Building number 7 will bring us some luck. I could go up and check things out if you like. I’m between assignments right now but I’ll need per diem for expenses.”

“I think we can handle this. It is what we do.” Karen was strict, maybe she’s overweight, maybe didn’t want to be seen by her hero. Time to kill this call.

“Well, Karen, let me know if I can help. You may want to hold off on that hero broadcast. I won’t be able to do much as a celebrity.” Even less if you get my remaining family and me killed.-I thought.

“Rocky, can you tell me how you did it? How did you do so much and live through what killed so many others?” Karen asked.

Is Karen looking at a long list I wondered?

Failure to Follow Instructions. Only your first 600 words.