Tripping Over Hurdles

During the critting process I received two comments regarding the same thing. Although everyone else said nothing about this “issue” (which I’ll get to soon) and were willing to accept the story as it is, I believe that these two people are right. Because of this, I have come to my first real hurdle in the editing process of Cat’s Eyes.

The issue?

Person One said: 1) the first chapter made my MC sound mean and nasty, and that readers might not form an attachment to her because of this, and, 2) there is no hook at the end of the first chapter. Both of these things could mean that I might lose the reader.

Person Two said: 1) the first chapter made my MC sound mean and nasty etc etc, and 2) where was the action? Again, I might lose the reader.

Both of these people are basically saying the same thing – chapter 1 isn’t as strong as it should be. And I agree.

The first chapter of any book should open with a hook, which this chapter does, but then things have to move right along so that by the end of the chapter the reader has to keep reading.

The problem with my first chapter is that I have to establish the relationship my MC has with her family (her half-sister and stepfather, in particular) because this is the crux of the MC’s inner conflict. However, in doing so there’s no action to grab the reader’s attention. Person Two said they would have preferred it if I’d started with the action, because they didn’t care about the family interaction. When I ask myself why that is, it takes me back to what Person One said about not forming a bond with the MC.

Two people out of a couple of dozen had a problem with this, but for me, that’s enough. I have to fix this and I know that if I do, the manuscript will be better and stronger because of it.

Upon thinking about this dilemma I realised that the first three chapters need rewriting. At first, I sat back and thought this couldn’t be done, but I made a list of what has to be in chapter 1 and now believe I can rewrite the first two chapters as one short chapter and still have all the elements I need to make the ongoing story complete. By doing this I will have the opening hook, the much needed interaction between the family members, the imagination of a young girl and a great hook at the end of chapter 1. All necessary ingredients when writing a manuscript.

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