Since starting school, I’ve had little time to work on my personal writing (or breathe either, when it comes down to it), but my characters and novels are never far from my thoughts. I miss them. I’ve spent the last three years pouring my life into them and it feels like someone viciously stripped me of half myself.
So it was no surprise when, on the way home from school the other day, I began to talk to my husband about a problem I’ve had with “Through This Darkness” for over a year.
I know the first chapter sucks. I’ve KNOWN the first chapter sucks. I was just hoping that someone would tell me how or give me some suggestions on it.
I’ve given a lot of people opportunity. I’ve handed out over 10 copies of my manuscript to friends and family. All the people who read it had something insightful to say, but most of them have said nothing. I waited for a while, but at this point some of them have had their copy for over a year. Now I just assume they hate it so much they’re afraid telling me will permanently damage our relationship.
This assumption has led me to pick, prod, cut, and cull my manuscript in a desperate search for flaws. Good news is I’ve found many. Good news is I’ve solved many. (Bad news is there is all these crappy copies of my manuscript floating around out there. I lose sleep over that…if you read this and you have one, please, just burn it.) The most glaring problem in my mind was still the first chapter, the hook, the thing that will make or break potential agents, publishers, and readers. With nothing else to go on, I figure the majority of the people I’ve given it too can’t even get past the crappiness of those first five pages to finish my story.
I’ve been whining and groaning about it to my husband for a while, just wishing someone who knew would help me see what I can’t. Last Monday, my husband turned to me during one of my rants.
Him: “What would happen if you just deleted the first chapter and started at chapter two.”
The space after he said these words was not as long as it felt. It felt like I had time to watch my entire universe explode and realign in perfect order. I said, very softly, “…sh*t…”
As the conversation developed, my husband and I came to the conclusion that this might be one of my hiccups as a writer, and why I struggle so much writing short stories; I just take too much time to set up a scene, instead of getting right into the action.
I’ve begun to comb through the chapter, searching for anything important I might need to squeak in later on. The rest of it *snaps fingers carelessly* gone! I’ve had to kill several chapters worth of darlings in this novel, but this? Nope, nuh-uh, sorry punk, ain’t gonna miss ya.
I’m hoping this change will not only be a huge leap forward for my novel, but my writing in general. And it’s all thanks to my brilliant, wise, patient, dearly beloved husband. I love you Buppy! ❤