1. LVL1Mage

    LVL1Mage New Member

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    I'm feeling a bit distressed about this

    Discussion in 'Editing' started by LVL1Mage, May 2, 2019.

    Recently I sent a few chapters of my current WIP to some of the people in the social groups that I'm in and this one person told me that my first chapter is written well, but it failed to hook them and make them want to read anything past it. For some reason, this is really bumming me out and I can't figure out what to do to rectify this. It's eating away at my confidence.

    I want to make my first chapter better because first impressions are very important, but I'm not really sure how to.
     
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  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Are you sure that what you're calling the first chapter is the real first chapter? It's pretty rare that the first thing I write in a story is the actual chronological start to the story. I usually write for a while and once the motor is warm the first actual chapter shows up and I clip off all the warm-up.
     
  3. LVL1Mage

    LVL1Mage New Member

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    Yeah, it takes place a couple of hours before the second chapter.
     
  4. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Let me ask you: How much of your draft have you written?

    I believe what Wreybies is trying to say is that what you're writing now may be something that once the draft is done, you'll look back and realize it's not actually that useful for the story.

    Don't get caught up in making chapter 1 perfect before you've even started chapter 2. Many times in the process of writing my story I'll realize that if I do it this way instead of that way (like I originally planned) it'll be a lot better! Side-effect: stuff I've previously written is now Useless and must be scrapped. It's part of the process!
     
  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, this.

    Sometimes you have to be willing to scrap those first words you write. Not always, but sometimes, and the actual, genuine first chapter shows up a little later in the process.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I know not everybody agrees with me on this, but I think this is one of the good reasons why I would never show my story to anybody until it's finished.

    It's one of the hardest things for a new writer to accept, but first chapters are very often either dumped later on, or radically altered ...because they are often just 'throat-clearing.' They get YOU started, but they aren't the 'start' you're going to keep for your readers.

    I would say forget that feedback, and just keep writing. Once you're done, you may well see why that opening chapter doesn't work. (And maybe it does work, and that person just didn't see it.) You won't know what works and what doesn't till you've got the whole story in front of you.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
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  7. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    I would also add, did you recruit alphas / Betas and they volunteered, are they friends who asked to read it out of curiosity, or did you approach them and they said yes to be polite? And are they readers?

    That sounds basic, but those factors can alter people's responses pretty drastically.

    If you've covered your bases there and it's a real alpha or beta situation, ask the person some followup questions: Is it the character or the plot they're more disinterested in, or both? Where did they lose interest and start skimming? What were they wanting that the piece didn't deliver / what would have made it better for them? What would they want to see? What information was missing that they needed to get invested (or was there too much information)?
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Also - its one person. Nobody is ever going to write a book that everyone who read it loves - if you go to amazon and look at best selling authors they still have one star reviews - like the chap who told JK Rowling that harry potter ~1 was unbelievable pap ... with a billion dollars made since then its lucky she didn't listen.
     
  9. LVL1Mage

    LVL1Mage New Member

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    I have written 4 chapters so far. About 30 mins ago I ended up merging the original 1 and 2 and this new creation seems to work better as a chapter 1 now.
     
  10. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    This is one person and you seem to have focused on the "negative" rather than the positive of what they said.
    You could add to your question: Is the hook strong enough?
    See what other opinions you get. Then if others bring it up that's the time to address it.
     
  11. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    In both my first and third books I wound up ditching the first chapter prior to publication. I tend to write super awkward tell-don't-show beginnings just to get in the groove of the story, then eviscerate them further down the editing pipeline.

    I have to agree with @jannert that it's really hard to see whether your first chapter is compelling, needed, etc. until it can be seen as the merely part of a whole. I also no longer send anything for beta/peer critique until it's a finished product.
     
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  12. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    Several people read. One is not exited.

    That sounds good.

    What is the problem?
     
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I have seven out now and I think I changed the first chapter or at any rate the first segment of it on every single one.
     
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  14. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    We could take shots all day at what the issue is. But we'll really be able to tell you if you post it in the workshop.
     
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  15. LVL1Mage

    LVL1Mage New Member

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    Sorry for the super late response! I couldn't remember what this website's name for the life of me when I was trying to switch from mobile to my laptop. I'm feeling a lot better about this situation now, but for some context, all the person said was that it was written well, but failed to hook them. That was all they said. I didn't get a why. For awhile, I was trying to figure out what that why was because they couldn't tell me.

    Also apparently I don't have permission to post on the Workshop yet. :(
     
  16. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    yep workshop is 14 days and 20 posts unless you purchase supporter membership - if you do that you can get in straight away, but you still have to give two crits for each one you request
     
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  17. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    If you want to write and let others read your writing you'll need a rare combination of tough skin and delicate instinct.

    If 1% of people get's so hooked that they buy your writing you'll sell by millions.

    If 99% hates or just does not care - it means nothing if you have enough those who care.

    "Failed to hook but did not get a why?" Well... You'll get it with delay. You'll get it by reading and writing.

    You'll need tough skin to manage negative feedback. If you write a lot, you'll get it a lot.

    You'll need tough skin to manage positive feedback. Sometimes it's more dangerous & harmful than negative.

    You'll need tough skin to manage misleading feedback.

    And you'll need tough skin to manage delays.

    Something is wrong and it takes two years to find out what it is and what to do. You'll need tough skin.

    You write a book manuscript. Then you seek for agent. Then you wait. Then... something or something else or nothing? You'll need tough skin.

    You'll get your skin armour by reading and writing.

    Don't get too trapped to opinions others have. Not here, not in real world. Do your reading & writing. Be the captain of your writing ship.
     
  18. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    If I'd get such a response from trusted Alphas, my first reaction would be to look for flaws in my narrative. I'd take it to mean that I hadn't characterised the POV character throughly enough, soon enough, for the reader to feel that the MC is a 'real' person and that he therefore should care for this 'person's' fate.

    Obviously an author can only in the rarest of cases describe the problem the MC has within the first three sentences, but that's how soon a reader should engage with the MC. However, there are ways around that: Every person has little contradictions in their character, and these contradictions describe who we are. Example: Someone loves pillows and blankets and can never have enough, but would ditch them without thought if he'd get a sleeping bag and an offer to be driven to the wilderness of some countries, completely disregarding safety cautions. If I find such an intro, I wonder why the MC would be so keen to go there if he is a safety freak in everyday life. I'd sense a story behind it. I'd be curious.

    Give me a question to ask anyday, even if it's only the littlest thing, and I'll bite down and never let go—at least until the story is over :D
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
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  19. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    There are some requirements, as posted above, but I'm sure everybody is always looking for more active participants here.
     
  20. Harmonices

    Harmonices Senior Member

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    Take a look and read some of the other submissions there, read the feedback on them, then offer your own feedback. This will help you get an eye for the faults in other's writing, and eventually help you fine tune your own.
     
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  21. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel Contributor

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    If you start editing before your finish the book, odds are you are going to have to go back and re-edit the already edited stuff again because you'll have made more changes. Save your time. Writing books takes long enough already. No need to add unnecessary work. It is very helpful to finish your book before you start editing or showing your stuff around.
     
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  22. Ma'am

    Ma'am Banned

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    If it helps, most of us go through a learning process on when to ask for help and who to ask for help.

    I don't ask for input on a piece until it's finished and polished to the best of my ability. Going through unpublished work that they didn't choose is more often tedious work than a treat. I don't want to waste favors on anything I might completely change anyway.

    And, unless you're lucky enough to have "the right" friend or family member, I suggesting requesting help from other writers or aspiring writers instead (and of course only those who have agreed to it). Friends and family may not get that your work can feel like your baby. Or they'll go the other way and overly praise it just to be nice. They frequently just don't get it like other writers do.

    It also just takes a while to get used to having our work criticized, even though we ask for it.
     
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  23. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    For some people. For other people (including me) early feedback and early editing is useful.
     
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  24. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Is that so you can tell whether or not the start of the story is having the effect on readers that you wanted? That could certainly be useful when it comes to launching the story in the right direction.
     
  25. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The early editing is for me, and just coincidentally happens to be useful (really, necessary) for the early feedback. I get zero pleasure and zero inspiration from having done unpolished writing, and I can't do a book's worth of writing with zero pleasure/inspiration--I need that "hit" regularly. A scene that's thoroughly polished, and kicks my own emotions when I re-read it, gives me pleasure and keeps me involved in the project. This is true even if I know from the first word that the scene is likely to be just thrown away in the end.

    I also get pleasure from the early feedback. That's probably the main thing. I write completely out of order, so it doesn't tell me if the story is remotely headed in the right direction. :) But it does give me some guidance on overall mood and voice and whether the internal structure of the scene works. If this scene had an impact on a reader, and that one not so much, and that one confused them--that's useful.
     
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