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Under the microscope

Author and lecturer James McCreet puts a reader’s first 300 words under the critical lens

1 A bold start using imperative address. It grabs the reader’s attention even though – and partially because – we don’t know who’s talking. The lack of speech marks suggests that it’s the author. Alas, the comma is impossible here. Try a full stop.

2 I like the repetition of ‘tell’. It emphasises the imperative voice and adds a layer of specificity.

3This additional detail sets up the scenario. It’s a deal. But who are the two people? Why does one want to know about the other, and why is reciprocity necessary? We must read on. It’s a good hook.

4 Is it really such a simple request? The brief is so wide and vague that answering such a question would be tricky for many people.

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The UK's bestselling writing magazine • Beat writer's block: Busting the myth and dealing with the reality • Revealed: WM's books of the year • Star interview: Stef Penney – intimate emotions, epic landscapes • 20 packed pages of Writers' News: win £50,588 in writing prizes; opportunities to get published; insider know-how and much more...

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