Editing , ,

Editing a Novel: Knowing When to be Brave

I know I’ve neglected the blog over the summer, and can only apologize for the long absence. My excuse? I’ve been submerged in the edits for Caught Inside. Focusing solely on the structure, I’ve read and reread, taking countless notes; spent hours online to double check facts; deleted scenes and added others, and generally tightened the overall plot. At last, the story is flowing the way I always hoped it would…except for one thing.

In my post The Key to Writing a Great First Chapter, I predicted my opening would threaten my sanity more than any other aspect of the writing process, a prediction that is proving horribly accurate. No matter how often I rewrite and change scenes around, I remain dissatisfied with it. Despite my attempts to shut it out, my muse keeps whispering to me that my Chapter One, as it is, doesn’t do what it should, namely suck the reader into the story from the outset.

Once I started listening to my muse, the doubts refused to be ignored. The question was, what to do about them? The answer came to me last week, while I was ill in bed with nothing much to do but read and let my mind wander. Don’t ask me why, but my muse frequently speaks to me when I’m laid up and unable to do anything other than chase thoughts around my head. This particular exchange went something along the lines of:

Muse: So, you’re not happy with your first chapter. The best thing to do is to simply dispense with it and jump right into the novel at Chapter Two.

Me: Uh…

Muse: Well, why not? You can’t deny it would work, that it would be a much stronger opening than your current one.

Me: Perhaps, but…

Muse: There are no buts, and don’t worry about the important details you’ve incorporated into Chapter One. You can always find another place to insert them. You’re creative, right?

Me: I could… I mean, it would take a bit of jiggling, but…

Muse: Fantastic! I knew I could rely on you to do the right thing. You won’t regret it, I promise. All the headaches and frustration, for which I accept my share of the blame, will be worth it in the end. Just you wait and see.

And that’s how I reached the decision to rework Chapter One, although, once the idea took root, it was really no decision at all. I’m determined to make this book as good as it can possibly be, and that means getting it right from the very first page. Of course, now comes the hard part: taking my opening chapters to pieces and putting them back together in a way that is stronger, livelier, and more compelling.

Wish me luck!

2 comments on “Editing a Novel: Knowing When to be Brave

  1. LOL. Your muse was so persuasive =) Good luck with the editing, it may suck now but I’m pretty sure the end results will be well worth it.

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