Chapter 1: 2786 words so far, and pretty close to done. Not counting a 2345 word prologue, a thing I generally know better than to try since it will invariably be absorbed into the rest of my story during the first revision pass, but right now,it fits. I prefer not to mess with whatever momentum I can get going in the early stages: I may slog my way miserably through the middle of a novel, but beginnings are delicate for me. Outline keeps changing. Character motivations keep getting more complicated. Research is, as always, never-fracking-ending.
Anyway, I’m just about done with this chapter (after rewriting it once already), and not yet sure it does everything I want it to. I want my first chapters to give you a few big players, MC included, establish enough world-building to make you reasonably comfortable with what’s going on and the whens and wheres, and lay down Goal Number One and Conflict Number One, whatever those happen to be and however temporary they are in terms of the larger arc of the story. I prefer them to be connected, but I’ve seen it done very well otherwise. I just don’t have the stones to try it myself.
This is easier to believe than to follow, of course. It’s a lot to fit into what I generally try to make one of the shortest chapters in the book, since long chapters give me the impression of slow pacing, and I don’t want slow pacing until you’re already hooked on my MC and her predicament…
Interesting reading the different advice out there on writing this chapter. One person says it should begin just before a pivotal event in your MC’s life. Another says to introduce The Big Conflict in the first chapter. Someone else advises you should end your first chapter with a question, or a cliffhanger.
All possibly true, and all possibly wrong under the right circumstances, as are my own preferences.If there’s one thing I’m sure of after writing and revising several novels, it’s that there are very few hard and fast rules to this. Anything can be done, providing you meet the catch-22 clause of doing it well.
Gah. This part is such a pain in the ass.