It’s no secret that I want to begin querying soon. But there’s just one more thing (well, five more things, but mainly one) that I need to work on.
That evil, infamous, obscure being; that illustrious yet arcane thing called Chapter One. The thing that hangs elusively dangled above the Unpublished Author’s head like freedom above a teenager.
But the fact remains that a lot of us find Chapter 1 hard to write. Or rather, hard to get right. Chapter 1 of The Sound of Color has had probably 12 or so revisions and two complete re-writes. And I’m still not 100% sure this is the version I’ll end up using.
I think it’s because there’s so much resting on Chapter 1. It’s the handshake, the first interaction. It’s where you either catch the reader in your net or you let him swim away. (I’m full of strange analogies today.) Almost like a delicate recipe where there needs to be just the right ratio of action to backstory, dialogue to narrative, characters to scenery, etc etc. And if you add just a tiny bit too much of one thing, it will catch on fire in the oven and burn your whole house – er, story – to the ground.
I’m not here to tell you how to write chapter one.
(Although here are some good links if you’re too lazy to Google this info:)
Right, I’m not here to tell you how to write chapter 1. I’m here for comradery. I’m here to let you know that I too struggle with perfecting chapter one. And that’s okay.
That’s why I love blogs about writing. I love to see other people struggling with the same things I am. One blogger I follow, John Berkowitz (fabulous author and quality blogger) said this recently about first chapters:
Writing the first chapter of a novel is hard. But it is hard over a long period of time; you will work on your first chapter longer than you will work on any other part of your novel. And you will be working on it until the moment it goes to press.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. And then he goes on to talk about how hard Chapter 1 of Book 2 is, and let me tell you, folks – I’m glad I’m only on Book 1.