Monday, 7 July 2014

First chapter problems

I've recently asked for some feedback on StarMark from a few friends, to see whether I'm finally getting into my MC's head. The answer seems to be 'yes, but you could do better!'

The other problem that's been highlighted in the very first chapter is that my MC is acting a bit too mature for her intended age - an issue that's partly tied up with 'voice'. Problem is, the first chapter revolves almost entirely around the MC. The only other character in this chapter pops her clogs within the first couple of pages, so it's all got to be 'head-stuff' to keep things moving. And I don't do head-stuff well enough to make that work. Yet.

I'm not disagreeing with the feeder-backers - I think they definitely have a point - but I really, REALLY wish that I didn't feel so negative about it! Because I'm not quite sure what to do now. It's getting to the point where I've reworked this first chapter so many times, I'm losing sight of what I wanted to achieve in it. Feels like I'm in a constant edit cycle with no way of getting off at the moment!

I'll use the Accept, Amend, Reject rule, but it may be that StarMark ends up as a bit of a compromise - I get it to where I'm comfortable in the headology department, self-publish and accept that it's not going to be perfect but it's as good as I can make it at the moment without ruining it. Resign myself to doing better with the headology in anything I write in the future. There is also part of me that wonders how much headology a 9-12 year old would expect to read in a book - am I beating myself up about the headology because I'm coming at it from too adult a reader's perspective? Will my young readers mind if they don't get so far inside Irvana's head?

I suppose the only way I'll find that out is to get the story out there. I'm giving myself to the end of the year.


  1. First chapters are notorious little you-know-whats. They have to do so much in such a short space of time and inevitably get rewritten more than the rest of the book. Perhaps take note of the feedback but wait to rewrite until you're happy with the rest of the book, then come back to the first chapter with a fresh head when you know what the rest of the book is doing? I can't remember where I read this (Stephen King? or someone else?) but there's someone who advocates not touching the first draft of the first chapter until the rest of the book is finished. Good luck!

    1. Sounds like a good idea - to mull things over and see what crops up in the later chapters.
      I've got a good dose of firstchapteritis!

  2. Hi Squidge, so you think it's too advanced for your target audience. What if I told you that I often look at the books the kids are reading in year 4 through to year 6 and told you I always see Harry Potter in there. Turn to the book-marker and find where they're up to and think to myself, 'Wow! good on you kids.' Don't worry about them, trust the reader, even the youngster's like a bit of a challenge. Baz.

    1. I don't think the story's too advanced, Baz - it's more that certain aspects of the MC's behaviour are not what a 12/13 yr old would do; more like a 14/15 yr old. Which readers of the target age might not relate to.

      And I do tend to fall back on the omniscient narrator at times, which adult readers tend to not want to see. Mind you, omniscient worked in Granny Rainbow - although that's a younger audience...

      I'm all for challenging kids when they're reading...