First Chapter

So as I’ve been revising, I’ve noticed something. My first chapters are not as good as the rest of the books.

So I’ve been wondering why this is. Is it because I’ve reworked the first chapters over and over based on critiques or contest entries, and I’ve gotten tired of them? Or is it because I’ve reworked the first chapters over and over based on critiques or contest entries and I’ve written a “chapter by committee?” Or do I not find the groove until chapter two? (I think this is probably the least likely, but could be…)

I know me. I write a chapter. I get excited about it. I get someone to read it. Someone points out flaws. I fix. I send out. More flaws. I fix. You get the picture. At some point, I believe it’s not my work anymore.

It all comes back to the theme – “protect the work.” If only I could learn to trust my own instincts.

But what if it is the groove thing? I mean, starting a book is so hard, finding that balance. What to tell, what to leave out. It's hard. How do you achieve the balance?

I mailed my agent requested ms and two contest entries today (one contest was the Emily, which is Houston sponsored. The postal worker asked if I thought Houston would be there Saturday!) I'm anxious to get back to work on DLB.

And Gerry, you're a handsome guy, but let's give the v-necks a rest, okay?

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Michele said...

Actually, I like the V-neck. Looks darn sexy on him. Love the hint of chest. I'm not a fan of his, but that smile, that look ...I'm reconsidering.

Toni Anderson said...

I have the exact same thought about one of my stories Mary. I am actually trying to drop the first scene and incorporate as back story.

I've had wildly different responses to that first scene--good and bad, and I'm wondering if I am stuck on the idea because my voice is strong in it? Am I in love with my own voice to the detriment of the story as a whole? I know I added too much information because people said they were confused...but probably too much. So I'm going to try again--again :)

Shesawriter said...


You have the same problem I have. I think my latter chapters are more polished because I know my characters better as I go on.


Trish Milburn said...

I know what you mean about the starting being hard. I'm at that point now, planning a new book and trying to figure out where to place everything.

And you know, I'm with you on the V-neck thing. I'm beginning to wonder about ole Gerry. ;)

MicheleKS said...

The v-neck thing is okay but an open-collar shirt is better.

MJFredrick said...

AHEM. We are NOT allowed to speculate about Gerry.

Tanya, the more I think about it, the more I think that is the reason - that I'm more inside my characters by the middle of the book.

Toni, it's so frustrating, isn't it? At that point, I tend to scrap what I've written and start fresh.

Anonymous said...

Mar----I had tons of problems with my first chapter of my last book...I went to crit group, I ended up cutting 23 pages (arrghh, but it was a good thing), the whole bit. But what did I finally end up doing? Once I really knew my characters well, I went back and rewrote the first chapter, to fit it with what the characters had evolved into. And I was a lot happier with it.


Amie Stuart said...

Mary I have one story that i did heavy revisions on the beginning because of contest feedback, but I still get criticism of the opening because it starts with quite a bit of narrative not action. I'm not changing it.

On the other hand I have another novella I just finished (must edit today) that the opening is fine but the conflict bugs me. So much in fact I had 2 friends read it (not cp's) just for feedback. I love conflict, real conflict and big problems but that's kinda hard to pull off when you're writing contemporary erotica ;-)

I think sometimes we just have to go with our gut despite what other people say. Sometimes we have to listen to other people and let it go. I'm no help am I? LOL

MJFredrick said...

LOL, Cece! I can imagine big conflicts/erotica don't make good bedfellows (ha ha).

I think after learning to depend on cps, it's hard to start depending on your gut again, ya know?


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