Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chapter on the Chopping Block...

Finally, I had my first chapter - chapter 1 - critiqued by the writer's group I joined last month. It was so much fun reading and editing everyone else's chapters, I could not wait for my chance!

And then, the moment I submitted chapter 1, I realized something. Something that the little voice in the back of my mind has been trying to tell me, I refused to believe it was something that I had to do:

Kill chapter 1...

Once I submitted that chapter for the scrutiny of others, I hit me. The chapter is completely disposable. It doesn't do anything to move the story along. It's way too elusive. It doesn't do anything but paint a pretty picture about what is going to happen latter in the book without giving any details to the reader as to what exactly those events are...

What good is it then?

My book originally started out in a very sad, dark place. And it worked. I thought I like it.

Then, as I worked through the later chapters and got to the parts where my MC reaches a better place in her life, it seemed odd starting the book off so horribly. Who the heck would want to read something in it's entirety unless they got a taste of what's to come first?

So I took chapter 8 - when she's at the brink of happiness - and tossed it to the front as chapter 1. It does paint a great picture of a woman who almost has a handle on life and is starting to love it all again... I had decided to use the dark, sadness of her past as a flashback...and make it quick!

In my head, it sort of almost worked...I thought I had it...

But when I pressed send, I became instantly aware of my mistake...I shouldn't even have sent off the happy-go-lucky chapter...I should have killed it instead!

It's not a good start to a book that NEEDS to start hard and depressing and show you the rough road the MC takes to get to a better place. It hurts to say this (since I've worked on and through these 21 pages for oh so long) but chapter one has got to go.

I have to kill it...

I toyed with fixing it, adding in all the advice of my critique group (I am still taking to heart their main points!) and I'm sure the chapter would become sooo much better for all their critiques...But it still won't be a good start to my book.

And you know what?

It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would.

I thought I was going to die to kill off all these pages that I worked so hard at. But in all honesty, I feel relieved. Even elated! I can't wait to go back to my original plan and start the book out with my MC - main character - in a dark hole of despair. Rock bottom. A tortured soul...and then on to the long hard dirt-caked-under-nails crawl out of her hole...

In some ways it makes it more real - the sad, the haunted, the pain - with a bit of fluff added here and there for good measure.

I get to submit another chapter in a week...I'll be sending out my REAL chapter 1 - the original start to my novel. I'll let you know what they think!