If your manuscript exhibits any of the following, it's better than half of the slush pile:
1) If you use action verbs in the first paragraph.
2) If you don't use a cliche in the first paragraph.
3) If you don't use unneeded words in the first paragraph.
4) If you name things specifically in the first paragraph.
An excellent poem mentioned in the comments about the slush pile:
"Innocence is its own defense", and other bad ideas:
Stable hexagonal cloud formation on Saturn, with video (page down):
SF and physics comments about the stable hexagonal cloud formation:
On the difficulty of getting started writing:
I don't have avoidance techniques for other things I like to do. For example, when I have an opportunity to (put in your favorite thing to do here--this is more fun if you think dirty), I don't channel surf for a half hour first, or decide suddenly that I need a nap, or go mow the lawn, or reread a favorite book, or clean the garage, or mope about how I'm not doing my favorite thing well enough, or stare into space for hours instead of doing it, or alphabetize all my DVDs, or defragment my hard drive, or read a book about how to do it better, or decide I need a class so I can do it better, or that I really need to go to a convention to get some tips before I do it, or . . . well, you get the picture.
Writing is even more like jogging than he thinks:
JR[Joanna Russ]: I found out once I got CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome] that writing takes an enormous amount of energy. It takes concentration, and this is a physical thing. I always used to wonder why when I finished writing I was so tired. I was only sitting down and writing. But now I can't concentrate long enough to do this, and I can't keep a whole thing in my head at the same time.
Read the comments as well as the post.
Sally can paint a room in 5 hours while it takes Steve 3 hours to paint the same room. How long would it take them to paint the room if they worked together?
Um. Let's see. Are they attracted to each other? Is there a bed? Are they likely to get in an argument? Is Steve cheating on Sally?