Monday, September 29, 2008

Slash and Burn

I know you’re probably supposed to wait until you’ve finished the whole rough draft before you start revising, but that darn first chapter was bugging me so much. It was all I could think about. I know, sad right?

So I revised.
So sue me. ;) (That’s a joke! I’m broke, so you wouldn’t get anything anyway)

I ended up cutting about half of the first chapter out entirely. And it was painful. But it’s soooo much better now. Probably not top quality (give me like six more revisions – I’m a perfectionist), but it’s definitely better. Just above the “that sucked” line. Woot! What an accomplishment. lol

I’m thinking that all but the very best authors probably have trouble with the first chapter. It’s like this. You know a thousand things that the reader needs to know, but you have to space those things out over the whole book and even then they only get about five hundred. It’s hard. And then you have to prioritize which twenty or so are too important to leave out in this chapter or that one.

To clarify, I already knew not to dump a backstory into the first (ten) chapter(s), so I didn’t do that. But I gave details about typical day to day life, just so the reader has some jumping off point. Unfortunately, nothing exciting happens in day to day life, so much of the chapter was pointless and bland.

Hence the slashing.

Fortunately, now that I’ve seen what a drastic change it can make, I think a big edit like that will be easier from now on. Although I suspect it will probably happen to every first chapter I ever write.

Fact: Getting a project (school essay, fantasy book, anything really) started is always the hardest part. Chapter two through about eight were super easy and by chapter nine the story was getting complex enough that it started slowing down. But by far, chapter one was the hardest to write. Hardest to edit. Hardest, period.

I wish chapter ones just never existed. :)
That’s my happy thought for the day.


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