Chapter One sucks. Almost all of them have commented on the yawn-inducing nature of my characters and their long, boring conversation over dinner. I feel really dorky, because despite the fact of being warned repeatedly about this exact issue during my research phase, I still ended up screwing up my intro.
When I wrote the rough draft of Teahouse, I produced it in chronological order. This was the first 3,500 or so words I wrote, and I was setting the scene, pacing and backstory not only for readers but for myself. I knew pretty much where I wanted to go with the chapters and how I wanted to get to the story’s conclusion, but a lot of the tiny details were foggy even to me.
I wrote Chapter One while I was still ironing everything out, and I fell prey to the beginners’ mistakes of bogging down the narrative with superfluous details and unnecessary conversation.
This past week has been very brutal but I really have appreciated every word. Ten years ago I may have been one of those novice writers with an exterior and self-esteem the consistency of a Cadbury Creme Egg center. I might not have been able to withstand pages upon pages of strangers picking and tearing away at my work, but I think I’ve grown quite a bit since I started writing fiction again a few years ago. I can see this for what it actually is, information that is crucial to not only the refinement of my novel but also to my growth as a writer. It might be a bit discouraging to find out that other people don’t enjoy the same things in my work that I did while writing and revising it, but it will help me understand what will work in my failures’ places.
Tomorrow is the last day to receive critiques. After that, I will be replying to each one in person and sending the entire draft to each interested reviewer. I’m hoping they’ll be able to help me find weak points and black spaces that could benefit from extra chapter insertions.
And I’ll be rewriting the first chapter entirely.