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Determine Your Writing Success in Ten Pages

Updated on October 10, 2014

From the Inane Comes the Truth

I was recently watching a new television series premiere. That in itself is news, because I rarely watch the boob tube, but there I was watching this female cop doing her thing on the mean streets of New York.

In one scene she was eating a piece of pizza when she came across a bad guy trying to accost a homeless guy. She dropped her pizza, tasered the bad guy, then picked up her pizza from the ground and took a bit. Some kid told her that was gross, and she replied, “Five Second Rule.”

I laughed, as did, I’m sure, millions of Americans, because, hey, we all have invoked, at one time or another, the Five Second Rule. Am I right?

Well, now let’s talk about the “Ten Second Rule,” a rule that all writers should be aware of. Loosely stated, the Ten Second Rule suggests that if you don’t capture your readers’ attention in ten seconds, you have lost them. Why? Well, if I was nasty, I’d say it is because the average reader has the attention span of a fruit fly, but I’m not a nasty kind of guy, so let’s simply say it is because most people are busy, and they don’t have time to waste on poor and boring writing.

Thus, the Ten Second Rule.

Did you know, however, that there are variations of this rule?

This is where the rubber meets the road
This is where the rubber meets the road | Source

Query Letters

Shrink that ten seconds down, baby, because when you send out query letters to agents and publishers, you don’t even have ten seconds. In the time it takes an agent or publisher to read your first two sentences, your fate is sealed.

Stop and think about that for a second. You spend six months to a year of your life writing a book, and your ultimate goal is to have it published by one of the established, traditional publishers….and you have about five seconds to dazzle them or face ignominious defeat and rejection. In other words, and I mean this in all seriousness, those first two sentences of your query letter are as important, if not more important, than the entire book that you wrote.

How’s that for a new reality?

Rewrite until you've got it right
Rewrite until you've got it right | Source

And If You Pass the First Test…..

Okay, so you pass that test. You send out a query letter, and much to your surprise and joy, you receive an email back requesting the first ten pages of your manuscript. Mind you, your book is three-hundred pages long, and it is filled with wonder and exceptional writing (or so you believe), but the publisher only wants to see those first ten pages.

Why?

Because if you’ve got it then you’ve got it, baby!

Agents and publishers are busy people. They receive, literally, thousands of query letters each month. From those thousands, they might request the first ten pages from fifty writers, and from those fifty they will choose one.

And that determination is made by reading the first ten pages!

Good luck!

One year of your life invested in the writing of that masterpiece, and nobody is going to see it if you can’t dazzle some stranger in New York in the first ten pages.

Am I Getting Through to You Yet?

Well let’s take a look at another example.

You skip the traditional publishing route and decide to self-publish. Maybe you use CreateSpace so you can have hardcopies of your book, but most definitely you publish an ebook. You format it to Kindle, and then you get to the part where Kindle asks for a trailer of your book….a quick synopsis that potential buyers will see on the Amazon website.

That synopsis represents your book. It is similar to the front flap on any book you find in a bookstore or library, a quick summary of your book which hopefully is interesting enough to convince people to read it.

It takes about ten seconds for the average reader to read enough of your synopsis/trailer to decide whether they buy your book or not.

There’s that ten second nonsense again.

But you see, it really isn’t nonsense.

Think about your own buying habits.

Of course there are some authors whose books you will automatically buy simply because they were written by that author. I do this with any book written by James Lee Burke. I don’t need a synopsis to tell me about the book. All I need to know is that Burke wrote it.

But what about books you purchase when you don’t have a specific author in mind? How do you decide which book to buy?

You read the front flap, or you read the trailer/synopsis.

Bingo!

Ten seconds!

When you get it right, you'll know it
When you get it right, you'll know it | Source

Now Let Me Give You an Example

From my recently-completed novel, Resurrecting Tobias, let me give you an example. The first draft of my novel began with this section:

“ I am a poet trapped in a prose-writer’s body. I am the long-haired, unwashed, higher-than-a-seagull bong-tokin’ coffee shop muse, staring out over the audience, bongos playing in the background, as I read my latest series of beatnik-inspired tripe.

I am a windmill-tilting, self-righteous sonofabitch, perched precariously on a soapbox hoping the wind does not topple me, and I am the pimple on your ass that no salve can make better.”

Okay, not bad, and honestly, this came very close to being the opening two paragraphs, but at the last minute I decided, with the help of my editor, that it wasn’t enough. I needed more. And so we ended up with this opening section:

“I once witnessed a stoning. I was in Iran covering a political story and had just left the Shah’s palace. On my way to the hotel, I noticed a crowd forming in the public square. A woman, dressed in traditional Islamic hijab, was buried to her shoulders, and ten men stood about twenty feet away throwing stones at her. The stones were about the size of a football, or maybe slightly smaller, all with sharp edges. The woman had several cuts on her face by the time I arrived, and the pain was obvious, but she did not cry out. Stone after stone hit her head, and the cuts increased, and as time passed, her skull appeared, and then brain-matter, and her blood flowed down to the dust, turning it red under the scorching sun.

Only an army could have saved her, certainly not a lone outsider to that country and culture, who would only have become a second victim. Any attempt to do so, by me, would have been suicide.

Hundreds watched the spectacle as though it were entertainment, many nibbling on fruits, some drinking from tiny porcelain cups, sustaining their bodies with fluids as the young woman’s fluids mixed with the dirt and her life ebbed.

That shit will stay with you once you see it. That shit will alter the course of your life and put you on a path you never envisioned when you were a youngster playing Kick the Can. It did for me, and my writings today reflect those moments when mankind’s brutality overshadows all advancements made in the past two hundred thousand years.

I am a poet trapped in a prose-writer’s body. I am the long-haired, unwashed, higher-than-a-seagull bong-tokin’ coffee shop muse, staring out over the audience, bongos playing in the background, as I read my latest series of beatnik-inspired tripe.”

I am convinced the decision was a good one, and that decision to change the first section was made primarily because of the Ten Second Rule/Ten Page Rule.

Grab them fast or don’t try to grab them at all.

Remember that the next time you drop your pizza.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Danny! Thanks for the visit.

    • Danny Cabaniss profile image

      Danny Cabaniss 2 years ago from Shawnee, Oklahoma

      Bill, thanks for the excellent hub and the different ways you got the point across!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...I will savor it, Deb, and try to keep it down after the savoring. I look forward to it my friend.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Beautifully said. You just gave me an idea for something that I have begun to research. And this is going to be one POWERFUL piece of meat. So savor it, but don't let it come back up again. You'll know it when you see it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      For sure, Jama! It's amazing how many writers don't understand this, even when they are told. :) You can lead a horse to water......

      Thanks for your loyalty my friend.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Writing political fundraising literature was my intro to the "10 second rule", or rather "the first paragraph rule", which probably takes the same amount of time to read. (Don't know, never timed it.) But the premise was the same. Grab a potential contributor's attention in the first couple of lines, or whatever followed was a waste of ink and your "brilliant prose" was already in File 13, headed for the landfill. Or in the case of books, the Remainder Table!

      As for your revised opening, glad you had the good sense to rewrite it. Great example of why a second pair of eyes is always a good thing!

      Upped and shared! ;D

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is indeed, Dianna. I know you know this. Thank you for stopping by.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      The ten second rule is a great way to measure opening introductions in speech as well. Once again, thank you for this valuable lesson.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...easylearningweb, you have me laughing. I would have liked your mom. Great line...kiss it and thank God for it...too funny.

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 2 years ago

      Yes, I happen to catch that because I think it was also on the commercial when she picked up the food from ground and ate it. My mom used to have a similar rule when we dropped italian bread...kiss it and thank god for it, blow on it and it should be fine to eat. LOL!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Easylearningweb and yes, that was the show. I have to admit, I grimaced when she ate the pizza. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always my pleasure, vkwok!

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 2 years ago

      Very good hub, and good choice of videos as well! Was the show you were watching the mysteries of Laura? I saw that same scene in that show. The 10 second rule is so true. Hook or sink!

      Thanks for sharing this information.

      Regards,

      Easylearningweb

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for showing us writers where we can go, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary! Slam, bam, that's all the time you have, let's move on to the next book....that's what we have to remember when beginning our works.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      If that opening doesn't catch the reader's attention that reader ain't human! I could think of no better way to put that.

      As usual you are right. How many times have you heard someone say they've looked at a book but it just wasn't interesting...ten second rule! The writer didn't grab them.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, we keep on learning, buddy, and we keep on growing...at least, I hope we do. :) Gluten free pizza would work quite well, buddy. :) Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I think if we all thing about our buying habits, we'll see the truth in this rule....thank you my friend and have a great week at work.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Social thoughts...attitude? me???? LOL Thank you very much and yes, I do have some attitude.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora! I'm trying to improve. There are days I don't think I have....your positive reinforcement helps greatly.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 2 years ago from New York City

      Bro this is spot on. I never completed writ any books, but been writing my novel out here online for close to 2 years now. The pages are scattered across the social web, and Internet :) just in case something ever happens to me before I complete it, but not planning on it.

      Maybe someone else could manage to puzzle this silly thing together. I wish them luck with the editing, because my grammar sucks! LOL

      The Kindle I got going out here is more of a techie book, and for those interested in the online world. I will surely use your advice and great tips here with the 10 second rule for sure. I already wrote my synopsis you know for that Kindle trailer, but I will surely look it over again to make it Pop! nice ending with the New York Pizza. I don't eat cheese or gluten anymore, but gluten free pizza would work well.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great advice Bill. I think there's a lot of truth to this idea of a 5 or 10 second rule. I say this because I know that's all it takes for me to lose interest. At some point I need to apply this test to my hubs and maybe rewrite a few first paragraphs.

      As always thank you for the advice and tips. Have a great week.

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

      I love how you combine so much advice with attitude! It's no wonder your work is such a pleasure to read!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      I like the beginning of your book. Thanks for using it a demo for your point about capturing attention. You are so good!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Iris, thank you very much. I so appreciate you buying it, especially since dollars are short. I sure do hope you enjoy it....you put a smile on my face this Sunday.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Frank. I appreciate it. Have a great Sunday.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vicki! I'm glad with the change I made as well. I can't imagine it not grabbing someone. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Michelle! I do think this is an important point for writers...and it only takes practice.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure Word 55...thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Eddy! The reviews have been very gratifying and I am very happy with the book. I hope you enjoy it as well.

      billy

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Bill, I can attest to what you are saying. As a matter of fact, you have put several sections on your book in HP articles that I have read. I like them, truly, but I lean more toward non-fiction, and my book buying dollars are few so while I want to support you I did not purchase your book. Until.....a week or so back you put that first section of the book in a Writer's Mailbag post. I had to read that book! I purchased it the next day. I would have done it that day, but my credit card info was out of date with Amazon, and I had to update it first. I add that to emphasize that your opening made me immediately want to buy the book (impulse), but (to borrow your words, if I may) "that shit stay[ed] with [me]". Those powerful words grabbed me and held me!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      the ten second rule for query letters.. yeah I buy that.. what a helpful hub.. and im enjoying revisiting my college days with Billybuc's creative writing 101.... awesome, useful... and a tool for guidance bless you my friend :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You had my attention at the beginning--and the end! The redo of the beginning of the book is excellent--much more grabbing. Way to go!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is scary, Vellur, but it is doable. Many others have done it before, and that means i have a chance, as do you. Thanks and Happy Weekend to you in Dubai!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      toknow, good to see you. I'm not sure the attention span is that long, but the principle applies no matter. Get the message across as quickly as possible.

      Thanks for the visit.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Great advice. Thanks for the to-the-point approach that you always bring. I will truly work fearlessly to capture this concept. Have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Not at all, annieangel, and thank you very much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, I have wondered about poetry. It seems to me you had better have a great image early on in a poem, or you have lost your readers...but what do I know about poetry? :) Thanks my friend and Happy Weekend to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much DDE!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lori, thank you, and I hope you are feeling better after your fall. I know my day is coming, and I cringed when I read about it on Facebook.

      As for reading further in hopes that a book gets better....not going to happen with this boy. I don't have that much time left. A writer needs to do their job and hook me quickly.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, rarely do I open a book to the middle, but I have on occasion. Good writing is good writing, no matter where you open that book...I second your observation. :)

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hey billybuc, this was excellent. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

      Right I am pleased to say that I am getting on very well with my writing course by now but again I have to say that you put your points across far better than they do !!! I found this hub enlightening and certainly helpful once again. I also have to let you know that while as of yet I have not bought Resurrecting Tobias it is certainly on my wish list and have read all your reviews on Amazon and am very excited to becoming another proud owner and getting caught up in the story. Thank you again for another great read and enjoy your weekend.

      Eddy.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Interesting and informative hub, ten seconds is all it takes and within that few seconds the fate of an entire book is decided, scary.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 2 years ago

      Very wise words Bill. It has been said that the average person's attention span is about half as long as whatever you are trying to tell them. With this in mind, it is necessary to give value quickly since we have such limited time to capture someone's attention.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 2 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      Couldn't have said it better myself Bill - thanks. I hope you don't mind if I share it with my board on Creative Writing on pinterest?

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Bill, you certainly made the right decision in choosing the opening you did for "Resurrecting Tobias" and the ten second rule I'd definitely real. In the case of poetry I'd say it was more like five seconds...often poetry readers don't even get past the title in fact. Once again, excellent advice.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Good writing deserves all five stars and you have earned yours and more thank you for helpful hub.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      The ten second rule is the kicker. Someone posted a question on HP a few days ago asking something to the effect of What is the best opening line for a book you've read. Good question and it was fun seeing the answers. You've got to have an instant hook or you'll lose your audience for sure. I've picked up books, even best sellers, that I really struggled to finish the first chapter they were so dry. People say, Oh just keep reading, it gets better. Maybe, maybe not. I don't want to read something that painstaking. Thanks for the headsup about the 10 page rule. It's a good one. Blessings my friend.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      When I am considering whether to obtain and read a novel, sometimes I will open it at random and start reading. If I don't think those few lines are beautifully crafted and intriguing, I keep looking.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rhonda, you are very welcome. Sadly, what you said is the truth, especially in today's world for unknown writers. You can write a masterpiece and nobody will get beyond the first mundane paragraph. Good luck and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, I suspect, in poetry, that the rule doesn't apply...unless you write one of those rambling epics like Tennyson was famous for. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alicia, I'll take those two words all the time, thank you very much. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Jo, and I like goatfury's wording as well. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. You are appreciated by little old me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You and me both, Sheila, and I'm still laughing about the cat hair. Thanks my friend, and Happy Weekend to you.

    • poetvix profile image

      poetvix 2 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      I now think I need to go back and look at the first paragraph of everything I've ever done. Not only does the introduction need to introduce but I'm getting the idea it needs to be a hook, an attention grabber or my proverbial fish will get away. You always give good advice but I'm really liking this. No matter how good anything is it really doesn't matter if the reader never makes it far enough to see it. Thank you :).

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      10 seconds doesn't seem like very long! Makes me worry and fret about openers!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is useful and interesting - two words I use a lot when commenting on your hubs! Thank you once again for the advice.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, I remember the 10 seconds rule from one of your previous article. It's quite an achievement to be able to grab the reader's attention and hold it, in a mere ten seconds, but as a reader, I totally get it. I like goatfury's concept to. Nice work as always, my best.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very reasonable, goatfury, and I totally agree. Thanks for the re-wording.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sandra, that was a bit much for sure. Those kids would never be allowed in public if they were mine. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We can only hope, Bill. Thanks for being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Dr. Billy, and you are absolutely correct about agents and their helpers. I've run into that quite often over the years.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, I love that phrase, and it is so very accurate. I will Google it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, you are right, the intro is crucial...and yet how many writers just breeze right over it as though it were not important?

      Have a great weekend, Ruby, and thank you.

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      sheilamyers 2 years ago

      The "Ten Second Rule" for food dropped on the floor works for me unless I pick up whatever it is and it's covered with cat hair. I like all of your tips for the "Ten Second Rule" as it applies to writing. I've probably decided not to read a dozen or more self-published books because the author has a one sentence synopsis or they write a paragraph that doesn't tell me much about the plot. I think the synopsis is where I need to improve.

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I read this concept written another way: the only job of the title is to get the reader to read the first paragraph. The only job of the first paragraph is to get them to read the second paragraph. After that, you've pretty much got them. Seem reasonable?

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 2 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      I agree with the 10 second rule completely for any writing including website material. But one thing I do have to say --- I too watched the show you described until the cops twin boys were peeing in public on the sidewalk. In 5 seconds flat my tv snapped off.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Great advice. Thanks for sharing in an entertaining manner. Someone may just become a winner because of it! ;-)

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Interesting post.

      Few agents read query letters anymore. They hire someone to sort through the stuff and show them the things that have prospects. So before you write a query letter, you need to have researched what the agent's specialty is and hit that in the first line of your letter.

      It's best to join a writer's organization where you'll learn how to pitch a book, if book writing is your thing.

      See this post if you want to know why your book won't be published:

      https://hubpages.com/literature/publishing-guideli...

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      And if you're writing a billboard, I think you have 7 seconds. :)

      Some call the current state of affairs "the attention economy." (Google it for more reading.) I think you'd agree.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      TGIF..I watched ' The Waltons ' last night and John Boy got ripped off by a publishing co. I thought of the many things you've taught us. I believe the first paragraph is the most important and the ending, which I have the most trouble. ( Ending )..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Flourish, if you like it then I like it. :) Thank you and Happy Weekend to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      True it is, breakfastpop, and I thank you. Happy weekend to you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Chateaudumer...i appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, you crack me up, in a good way. It's not easy describing a book we've written, is it? I've had that problem as well, so I, too, have to work on it. As for your marble, is it a cat's eye????

      Have a great weekend funny lady.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Natasha, good to see you again. I hope you are well...and no, no pizza after it touches the ground in NYC. I think we are all in agreement on that one. :) Thanks for the visit.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Grab them fast or don’t try to grab them at all. I like it.

    • profile image

      Breakfastpop 2 years ago

      Billy, you are, of course, right on the money. It may not be fair, but it's true.

    • chateaudumer profile image

      David B Katague 2 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Another fantastic hub worth my time. Have a Great weekend, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I have the smartest followers on HubPages. You are absolutely correct....grab them quick or forget about it...that applies throughout life in most endeavors. :) Have a great weekend and thank you.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      While home for the summer, we visit our doctors who are following health issues. This past week, I'm sitting on the exam table and my

      doctor walked in like an old friend, sat down and said, "It's so good to see you. What are you doing, these days?"

      "I'm writing a book", I responded, with this big grin on my face.

      "Really?" And he leaned forward giving me his full attention.

      "What's it about?"

      Bill, I could not have sounded any more stupid if I had stuck my tongue out, as far as possible, and tried to talk. I felt sure he was trying to eye my patient info to see if it was tagged, "MR", and maybe he had forgotten my mental condition.

      He looked at me like I had told him I had been abducted by aliens and had come back, married Sasquatch and was pregnant with his child.

      "OK, and why are you here, today?"

      I wanted to say, 'because I have lost my last marble'.

      These hubs are giving great information. But, when I apply it to my work, I freak out, big time. You simply MUST label your hubs, "NFDJ".

      "Not for DJ". Meantime, be on the lookout for my last marble.

      I'll send you a picture of the baby.

      DJ. :-)][]

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      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

      I absolutely agree that you have to capture someone's attention right out of the gate, but I've never thought of it in terms of the '5 second rule' for food! However, I'm with an earlier commenter who said she wouldn't eat pizza dropped in NYC, no matter how little time had passed. =)

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      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Bill. I can tell you that, as one who was in a position to do the hiring, the 10-second rule also applies to resumes. Web designers might do well to follow your advice also. Good advice for writers, or anyone trying to get their foot in the door.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Friday to you, Ann, and I am home and never left. LOL Jealousy for just a moment, but I'm all right again.

      Thank you of course. This is so important, and yet daily I read articles that have no dynamic intro at all...and I mean nothing even close to dynamic. Sigh! My job is never done. :)

      Have a great weekend my friend

      bill

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Great use of the 10 second rule; 10 words, 10 sentences, 10 pages.... I think that would be a good exercise too - how much good writing can I get into 10 whatevers? I'll set myself some exercises!

      Your examples are magic, your point is forceful and should hit home to any aspiring writer. Sharing to make sure others get the message!

      Back home now - lovely!

      Enjoy the rest of your Friday and happy weekend, bill!

      Ann

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, that's a great example of this rule, and I suspect it is used in many more businesses. This is a fast-paced world, and instant gratification plays into it as well. The big bang has to be there early, or the moment is gone and the chances are down the proverbial toilet. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, take your time ordering breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day, right? Savor the experience my friend.

      Thanks, buddy, and have a great weekend.

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      MizBejabbers 2 years ago

      Yep, you done good, as they say. Your first write wouldn't have caught me, but that's just my taste. The rewrite paints a more exciting picture of what is to come. I think there is a great lesson in this article, and aspiring writers should take it seriously. This is one of the points that was heavily emphasized in my feature and magazine writing classes. You can't say it enough, friend and good teacher, Bill.

      I'd like to give an example of something here from long ago. I don't know how music today is selected to be played on radio stations because this is the computer age. When this was done manually on 45 rpm, we would get in a new stack of records from recording companies and sit down to listen. Sometimes the first few seconds were good enough that we moved the stylus a couple of places more into the record, and if it held our interest it went into the "play" pile. Sometimes they were so bad they were automatically thrown into the "junk pile", but then we also had a third pile. It was a "maybe" pile, which we went back through before we made a decision.

      What has that got to do with publishing? Nothing. Like the pizza dropped on the ground, it just emphasizes the 5 and 10 second rules to get the attention of the key person to make or break you.

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      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      Bill, I think I am in trouble. I can't even order breakfast in my local cafe in 10 seconds.

      Great advice as always my friend, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I'm with you, although I have invoked the five second rule in the past, but the streets of New York? No way!

      Happy Friday to you Sha.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you use this rule in every blog posting.....you do a very good job with your introductions that grab the reader. Nothing boring about you at all my friend.

      Thank you and Happy Friday to you.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, your revised introduction certainly paints a picture. A horrid one, but paint you did.

      I got a chuckle out of your closing line. Ten second rule or five second rule, I don't think I'd dare eat a piece of pizza I dropped on the streets of New York.

      Happy Friday my friend!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, definitely some great food for thought and can very much understand the concept of the 10 second rule in general and also how it applies to selling our writing. Thank you of elaborating on this here and also wishing you a wonderful weekend now! ;)