A funny thing happened to me during the editing process. I realized my biggest problem scene is in the first chapter. In the first scene of the first chapter. I’m actually pretty happy with the rest of it–the other eighty or ninety or one hundred scenes. I’m not sure how it happened that the first and most important scene became dud-ish. Well, I have a few suspicions. That first scene was, literally, the first that came to me in this incarnation of my story. It came to me organically–charming me with words and phrasing. It helped to establish the feel and flavor of the tale. It rooted all that came after.
It’s not working. I’ve come to see (cue light bulb) that it possesses too strong a narrator-type voice. It’s intrusive. It’s my voice coming through and not the protagonist’s.
It’s so important to get the first scene right. We read about it all of the time. Our friend Ray Rhamey shows us with his regular manuscript floggings (HERE) how often our first lines fail by lying flat on the page, when they need to reach out and grab, and shove the reader into the story.
The first scene is significant not only when it comes to snagging the attention of agents and editors; it’s important because it establishes a bond between reader and writer. Trust me, those first lines say. I’m a storyteller, and I have a tale for you. You’ll like it. Grab a chair and sit a while with me, these pages, and you’ll be glad you did.
Here are a few examples. What do the voices do for you? Do they incite trust? [Read more…]