The most consistent feedback I’ve had so far is, without fail, the first chapter doesn’t work.
I’m leaving it in place on my website for a while, so it’s not going anywhere. Drink your fill of poor writing!
What’s wrong with it? People just get a general feel of “Well, it’s not bad, but I preferred the second chapter”. I have chosen to interpret this, correctly, as “Your first chapter is bad”. We all know that the first chapter, the first page, the first line, are crucial to catching a reader’s attention. My favourite opening line comes from John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War:
“I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.”
Bloody poetry! Just reading it now makes me angry that I can’t write something so damn compelling!
Check out more of Scalzi here: whatever.scalzi.com
I’ve also been told that there’s a lack of imagery; people couldn’t picture the main character, or where they were. It’s confusing.
So, I’ve scrapped it! I’ve rewritten it completely. It was a really hard decision to make. I got attached to the way my story flowed – or in this case, didn’t – and I’m concerned about future chapters following Moxar. Will I have to cut them all? Scary stuff, but definitely stuff that I need other people’s opinions on. I’m simply not self aware enough to make such a decision.
I have decided that, basically, I just can’t write “serious” scenes. I don’t know how to do a straight scene and make it interesting. On the one hand, this does ruin some of my ideas for upcoming books (I have got LOADS of ideas bottled up. I refuse to let them out until this book is done!). I’ve definitely been toying around with really creating my own world. I’ve got some great ideas, and I had always viewed them as serious novels. As if this novel, because of it’s tone, wasn’t a real novel. It’s me testing the waters, seeing if I can actually write, and then when I know I can, do a “real” novel (I have more to say on this in a later post).
So now I’m having to imagine these same stories but with an amusing tone. I guess that’s okay. Certainly some dry wit makes things easier to read. But I had imagined them as serious stories, with a serious tone, and a serious message, and serious stuff.
If I was a true hack of a writer, I’d probably drop a line like “I guess I’ll just have to face my weaknesses and overcome them, just like Lucian in my book Demi-Heroes” but I’m not, so I won’t.