Reported by Brenda Winter Hansen
Tina, an agent at ICM, made it clear from the get-go there have to be five things present in a manuscript for her to take it on.
1. A strong hook
2. A fantastic opening chapter
3. Distinct voice
4. Memorable characters
5. An engaging plot
As far as taste is concerned, Tina looks for high concept stories. What she passes on are stories that are too quiet, too gimmicky, or feel like they are a copy of a copy instead of being original. Preferring minimal setup and back story, Tina looks for a hook and first chapter that will throw her into the story and keep her turning the pages. The number one reason she doesn't read past the first chapter is that she is BORED. The second reason is that she is not emotionally invested.
A consistent voice is paramount; pay attention to which words your narrator would and would not use. She says that plot is easy to fix, BUT she passes on a plot when it is too predictable, boring, or too twisty. There must be a strong setting. If your story could take place anywhere else, then you don't have the right setting. And of course, there has to be a satisfying ending.