Sunday, May 23, 2010

Too Much BackStory in the Wrong Place

I've been down and out lately. My computer was out of sorts for a few days and believe me, the feeling was very similar to when I quit smoking almost twenty years ago. I bummed my daughter's laptop and my husband's, but it just wasn't the same. My little Blackberry got quite a workout too, answering emails.

So, I haven't accomplished much during the past few weeks. Here's what I'm doing:

Trying like crazy to create a new first chapter for my completed novel, but dang! it just ain't comin'. What can that mean? Anyone got an answer? You might tell me it doesn't need a new first chapter but, yeah, it does. Here's how I know:

I took an online course from an agent. It was a great course. She was hard-hitting and to the point. No flattery-just facts. The steps she took us through told even me that I need a new first chapter. Mine is too slow. "It lacks intensity," says husband. :)

2) I traded completed manuscripts with a writer I don't know. She's published a couple of eBooks. We're in an online RWA chapter and found each other through their critique list. Anyway, I read her manuscript before I sent her mine. Hers was fantastic. I couldn't put it down. It got very weak at the end--she rushed it--but she knew what she was doing so I emailed her my complete. She told me where the book really yanked her into the story--it wasn't the first chapter.

3) My first chapter is all back-story. Why didn't I see that before? I've always been told that we should start a book or a story in the middle of change, when something happens to our main character that will set him or her on a new path from that point forward. That's what I did. I brought my hero back to town, and he faces the heroine who destroyed his life. Isn't that change? Sure it is, but then all they did was rehash their past and evidently that's quite boring. What I need to do is sprinkle the backstory in here and there throughout each chapter. Easier said than done.

So... that's what I'm doing--thinking, thinking, thinking. How do I rewrite the first chapter, or create a new one? I don't have a clue ... yet.


Julie Jarnagin said...

I'm rewriting my first chapter right now. I cut about half of it, and the new version looks completely different. Good luck with your revisions!

Jan Rider Newman said...

At least you don't have to cut and re-introduce 70 flippin' pages! Ha. Have you separated yourself from this story and concentrated on something else? Give yourself some distance. I know you want to get it right -- now!! But don't force it. Spend some time dreaming your way through. Sounds like this is in your head a lot, which, as you know, is not the place from where you're supposed to write.

Erica Vetsch said...

Can you start with chapter 2?

I'm hacking out chapters and rewriting at the moment... and it's hard!

The solution will come when and where you least expect it. Just let things compost. You'll find the answer.

Jess said...

thanks for the comments and suggestions. My novel comes alive on page 88, Jan... so I might be cutting and reintroducing 88 pages!
You can instruct me HOW. :)

Saira Cee said...

Try a foreshadowing the first chapter, a taste at the climax. Then, chapter two (or pg 88 as you said its where it comes alive) go back to the beginning and work your way back to the climax... or something along the lines

Jess said...

Saira, thanks for popping in. I have done just that -- some foreshadowing. We'll see if it works. :) I've never had this problem before with any of the novels I've written and I've finally figured out why. In all my other books--the hero and heroine have never known each other; they meet for the first time in chapter 1. With this book, they went to school together and are now seeing each other again for the first time in 10 or 12 years. That's why I'm in this pickle!

Thanks for the comments, everyone.