Sunday, 22 April 2012

My Editing, and Goals of the Opening Chapter

After 3 weeks of finishing the first draft of The Jeweller's Daughter, I started the first edit. It is amazing how each time I read the same paragraph I was able to change something. Something didn't seem right.

The next day, if I re-read the same paragraph, I could change it again. And again. And I did. This is not what I wanted.

So, I got fed up of it, and left it for another week, while I got on with some other writing, short stories, and two other novels I made a start on...different genres.

After a week, I returned to editing The Jeweller's Daughter, and the same thing happened! However, I persevered and got to pg 30 out of 361, before I stopped and started to look again at the beginning again. I don't know why I do that sometimes, but I fiddled and tweaked at it, as if I only had one chance at editing it.  I suppose it felt like scratching an itch.

Sometimes, you just have a feeling that something isn't reading right. And if you have that feeling, you worry. I felt that if I felt something was wrong with it, the chances are, that someone else might see it. And there could be some huge blaring mistakes and awkwardness in my writing.

In the end, I decided to search the internet for advice on editing. There is so much free advice and information thanks to Google, that it wasn't hard to come by.

Fortunately, I found some advice. It seems like good advice. And I have a gut feeling that it is good. Here it the gist of it ...

Goals of the Opening Chapter -

1. Grab your reader's attention in - 3 - 4 SECONDS.

2. Ground the reader in the setting - IMMEDIATELY.

3. Intrigue the reader with a character ...IN THE FIRST 5 PAGES.

4. Give the reader a puzzle to solve - ON PAGE ONE

5. Start with a SCENE, unless the novel is definitely about a character.

6. NO BACKSTORY in first scene, or first chapter.

So I decided to test my work to see if it passed this test, and read 5 pages of my work. It did not fulfill the above criteria,and included much backstory in Chapter One.

Conclusion - I am re-writing the first three chapters, incorporating this advice.

I will let you know how I got on!