New Beginnings

The first chapter of any novel is perhaps the most important. After all, if an agent, editor, or reader isn’t hooked in that chapter, they’re unlikely to read on. But it’s easy to get stuck on this chapter, especially if your goal is to make it perfect before you continue on. One thing I’ve learned for myself is to just get the chapter down then keep writing, because no matter what I write, I’ll completely revise it, if not totally rewrite it, once I’ve finished the first draft. By then, I know not only my story better, but also my characters. Even the setting comes more into view. I’m currently working on my first time travel historical romance. It’s daunting, hair-pulling tricky, and the most fun novel I’ve written so far. I’m writing it from both the hero’s and heroine’s POV, alternating chapters…sort of. I’ve received comments back from my wonderful critique group, and now comes the really tricky part, compiling and studying all of their comments and suggestions. In the draft I gave them, the first chapter was written from the heroine’s POV. The hero from the nineteenth century had already time traveled to present day by the time she meets him. That meant that the reader did not live the time travel experience, just heard his account of it later. Several of my critique group members wanted to experience the time travel journey along with him. So I went back to the drawing board, or rather…computer, and wrote the first chapter from the hero’s POV, but other members of the group pointed out that they believed romances should always begin from the heroine’s POV. I thought about this, but decided to stay with the hero telling his story in the first chapter. Upon discussion with another wonderful writer, Pamela Mingle, I came to realize that when I added the the new first chapter showing the hero’s time travel journey, I’d followed it up with a short chapter from the heroine which made her look almost like a secondary character which was not my intent. So I rewrote that chapter, too, putting her on more equal terms with the hero as far as their individual challenges and goals, and tried to highlight their respective situations and personalities. And for now, at least, I believe the beginning of my story carries the intrigue and the hook it needs, but it was no small task getting it there.

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