July 31, 2010

Revelational advice

I once read a forum post that asked "Where is the best place to start? (your novel)" there was one reply that held a revelation.
It was simple, "Start at chapter 3."
Whatever you think should be in the first two chapters doesn’t matter, it can usually just be cut.

I fobbed it off at first (I was only up to chapter 4 at the time) but then I read my story so far and it made horrible sense.
My first two chapters were all introductory. They were great chapters, don’t get me wrong. They described loveable characters in believable settings, and they gave hints to the back story of the characters’ lives which test readers did enjoy.
Where was the action? Where was the first sign of danger in my novel?
If a reader was to pick up my book and flick through the first couple of pages, what was going to grab their attention and make them buy the book?

Chapter 3.

Dammit. How could I possibly cut out two chapters that I had not just first drafted, but I had edited and nurtured like I have my own children.

The solution was not to cut, but relocate them. They still held valuable information that the reader will need to feed their attachment to my characters. And they really do have some amusing tid-bits that I feel compelled to share with the world.

The chapters now reside comfortably as chapters 4 (former chapter 2) and 7 (former chapter 1.) They seem happy to be nuzzled in these places. It was relatively painful to move them, but I imagine the pain of deleting them would have been much worse.


Heather said...

Was that my thread by chance?? I made a post asking that same question. It got me too, and I love this entry on the matter. That's a GREAT. POINT.

Chazz said...

I think it may have been. I seriously didn't believe it could be true until I looked at my work and realised how much simple sense it made.

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