I started getting really serious about writing in my late 20s. Until then, it had been something like a dream--something that I thought about pursuing. But up to a certain point in my life I'd never actually put true effort into writing.
One thing that I found was necessary early on was that many markets required brief descriptions of the work they were being asked to read. Editors--even the ones who have the good fortune to employ first readers--have quite a lot on their plates. They need to know that something is appropriate to what they're publishing before they start in on it. A brief description of the work is not an unreasonable request.
In addition, if that brief description is well crafted, then there's a fair possibility that the work will be similarly constructed, thus making it more likely that said editor will look favorably upon the first few lines of the main work. And then you have a chance to hook them.
For some reason, I was fairly good at this right off the bat. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I was. Later, I got better at it because of several stories I sold to a particular market. That market was 365 SCARY STORIES edited my Bob Weinberg. The stories had to be real stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end. And they had to have a logical plot.
And they had to be 750 words or less.
And the editors meant it. The story couldn't be even 751 words. One word over and they'd send it back. Hopefully for revision, but maybe just back for good.
I sold several short-shorts to that market, and in doing so I learned to hack and slash. Get the idea across with as few words as possible, and have the thing make some sense by cutting more of the fat than I ever thought I could do.
It was a good writing lesson overall, and served me especially well in writing editorial blurbs and promotional pieces for my novels and for comic book ideas I was sending around and for movie pitches I was trying to get through the endless levels to the big dudes in Hollywood.
So, in a way, I owe a big thanks to Bob Weinberg.