As suggested by Nancy Butts, my ICL instructor, I've read more books on the art and practice of writing. Hooked by Les Edgerton emphasizes the importance of the opening scene, or better yet, the opening sentence of the novel. He claims that sales to readers (and agents and editors) are made by great beginnings. So, here's my opening sentence, at least until I change it again.
No one who witnessed my loyalty pledge to Adolf Hitler knew I had a note from a Jew in my uniform pocket.
What do you think? Would you want to read further?
In the other book, Self-editing for Fiction Writer by Browne and King, two editors share the marks of an amateur vs a professionally presented manuscript. Although I'm guilty of a number of the basic mistakes they describe, one in particular struck home. They call it RUE - Resist the Urge to Explain. I tend to explain what Sophie is thinking and feeling instead of just showing her actions and letting them speak for themselves. I've got to learn to trust my readers to understand Sophie without spoon feeding them details.