We've been doing this for a while now and I've learned a lot from it myself. One thing that comes up over and over are cliche openings. If I see certain elements within those pages, I send up a red flag that agents or editors may quit at that point. What are these elements? Glad you asked!!
- Starting with waking up with or without a dream.
- Parent has died and child is in new living situation.
- Teen discovers powers she never knew she had.
- Mysterious or drop dead gorgeous guy appears conveniently poised to become the love interest.
- "Best friend" boy likes MC but she doesn't realize it.
- Perky best friend has it all and MC is shy and awkward.
- MC finds it necessary to describe herself by looking in the mirror or thinking about her blonde hair and blue eyes (because you know, I walk around thinking, 'I have red hair and green eyes').
Please note that there are exceptions to every rule! For instance, I just had one that started with waking up and I enjoyed it immensely. Will an agent? I don't know! I can only speak for myself.
What have I missed? Can you add anything to the list?