1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    First Three Chapter Dilemma

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Elgaisma, Aug 6, 2010.

    I am currently reworking my novel and I am aware how important the first three chapters are. I love the first two chapters no concern.

    DILEMMA: My third chapter is the weakest chapter in the whole novel. Its unavoidable, I am introducing a whole new world. Its not a bad chapter, its just my least favourite. I am contemplating tweaking it to combine chapter's three and four as chapter four is one of the best. However there is a natural chapter break which I have used between them, and it would be a bit longer than I would like.

    Its a bit Bridget Jones and her knickers. Do I stand a better chance of enticing it in with big safety knickers or do I give them the nice frilly ones once I have them.

    What would you do when preparing things for the publisher?
     
  2. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    I had a similar problem with my first two chapters, it ended with me putting a chunk of Chapter two at the end of Chapter one.

    I would suggest just to toy around with things for a bit. See if things would fit, or make it fit. In the end I was completely satisfied with the decision, I didn't expect it at all. My problem was more to do with chapter length.

    Just see what happens.
     
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  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You say that your 3rd chapter is 'weak but necessary'. Okay, what makes it weak? Is it: too much/too little dialogue/description? Is the pace samey all the way through? No surprises? The reader wants to get back to the character/action of the chapter before?

    You'll have to do a bit of analysis on it. Also, check out which of your scenes are 'action' type and which are quiet 'reaction' type. Reaction is necessary after an exciting scene, but after a few pages, conflict starts up again. I'd say there should be at least a 4:1 action:reaction ratio, but that is only my personal opinion.

    You may find that the description you want to give is not as vital at that point as you think it is, or at any rate not all the nitty gritty is needed. Your reader, by the way, is not as in love with the world you are creating as you at at the start, you can't force a million facts on him/her. Maybe you can intersperse your description with something that engages the reader more diirectly, without altering the chapter too much?
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Its not really weak just my least favourite. Its because I created the world it bothers me, its far from an info dump. For me the information I need to give is unncessary, I already know it. There is actually some action in it. I think my problem is personal it is sandwiched in between my two favourite chapters.

    Ugh guess I'll work it out:) but I am very torn.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Elgaisma,

    As Madhoca suggested, work to improve the chapter.

    Your follow-on post to her suggestion began to read like you're justifying why it is weak, or your least favorite.

    If you hook the editor/agent reading the first two chapters, do you want them to end with a letdown? Will that result in a request for the full manuscript? Every chapter should be the very best you can make it. Yes, some will probably be 'better' than others (in your opinion).

    Combining ch 3 and 4 into one may make it a better chapter overall, but the reader would still have to get through chapter 3's first half--and the editor/agent may stop reading at any time if they feel the work is lacking. They have tons of submissions coming in, and often they look for reasons to stop reading and reject it, rather than look for reasons to keep reading. Yes, they want to find that gem, but there is a never ending mound to get through to find one.

    Don't rush, and get it right. When it (the submission package) is the best you can make it, send it off. You generally only get one shot with each reader (editor/agent).

    Also: The contraction for it is = it's. (I don't usually comment on such things in posts, but grammar check doesn't always catch this one, and you misused its vs. it's a number of times. Maybe it was a simple oversight, but if not, check it in your manuscript. Anything to bump it up a notch. :) )

    Good luck,

    Terry
     
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  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    :) it will be fine in the manuscript I use different English for a formal piece to an internet post. I am dyslexic so letters and words in right order comes first

    My problem is I have a set of dedicated teenage readers and three of them describe it as their favourite chapter, my bestfriend loves it. I am the only one that doesn't like it for some reason. Maybe I am over analysing lol

    I am reworking the whole novel to fit in a change I made so may be able to do something about it.
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Well, if your readers like it, and you can't find a particular reason why it's bad, then I'd suggest it's likely that your experience of it has been coloured by your being the writer. You've probably gone over it umpteen million times, and it's lost a good deal of it's charm to you.
     
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  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you are right. Its a good solid chapter and does the job needed to progress the story. I need it or the rest of the book wouldn't make sense. Plus for me its sandwiched in between chapters 1,2 & 4 which I think are some of the most inspired and best written pieces I have ever done, they get better everytime I read them. Chapter 3 won't let me down, but I really want to send Chapter 4. Think the point I started to dislike it was when I sent off three chapters to a literary agent and realised the rest stayed behind:)

    I'll try moving the chapters but I think I may leave it. I have just reread it and it really is at the stage where I either wouldn't do anything to it or as a writer I'm not capable of making it better.

    Thanks for your inspired help lol You were all right I needed to go back and look at it, just take a step back.
     
  9. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you feel that chapter three needs to provide so much info that it drags down the quality of the chapter then there is to much info.

    Go trough it and find all the info you can give at another time and give it another time.

    You could also try to merge chapter three and four and see how it turns out.Not that much work and you can compare which versions if the better one.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, you shouldn't be just 'preparing things for the publisher' [or agent, which you should be doing first]...

    you should be writing a readable, marketable novel, regardless of which chapter you expect to be read...

    if by 'the publisher' you mean you already have one, then i don't get what you mean by 'three chapter dilemma'...
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Banzai's assesment was correct I got a friend who is a successful writer in their field to read it. It needs some work because I have needed to tweak the whole novel, to change the breed of falcon, but its not bad. I am the only one who doesn't like it lol

    I am approaching two publishers which accept direct submissions. They require three chapters. One requires with it a 700 word synopsis and the other a blurb. I have my query letter prepared. One of the publishers I would love to get in with, it would be my first choice, so I am now gearing my story towards their publishing house. They are a young company but are successful, and they work with their authors over the marketing which is what I need with having 3 little ones. Plus they market their work almost entirely within Scotland which is better for me. If I want to market in the US my religious beliefs gives me direct access to some publishers as well.

    I have a potential literary agent a friend showed him my first three chapters and he has asked to see the rest of my manuscript in about six months, but I am unsure he is what I want.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I concur with what was said above - that you might have too much info in this chapter. I'd give that some consideration at least. I often see writers put in too much information, giving the reader more than they really need for the story, because they put a lot of work into world-building and want to share it. I'd look at the amount of information provided critically, and see whether it might be presented more effectively if you break it down over the course of the action of the story.
     

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