Wanted - A Rollicking Start

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I’ve gone back to the first chapter of my 2008 NaNo project, based on comments from my peers. I’m too close to the work and can’t see what’s wrong with it. It’s imperative that I fix it because I’m hoping to submit the book to an agent. The story is about three women – two are cheating on their spouses and the other can’t get rid of an unsuitable man.

I’m going to summarize the problems readers have with Chapter 1.

1.    Most feel disconnected from the MC and therefore do not sympathize with her. They don’t feel her emotions. Namely, her guilt.
2.    Her husband comes across as sympathetic, which distances the reader even more.
3.    Tension can be played up much more.  Her struggle to make a major decision should be brought in earlier.

Yesterday, I inserted additional thoughts about what Justine (MC) was doing, that is, committing adultery.  I didn’t want to dig too deep in the emotional department, thinking that readers would not enjoy being weighed down by this woman’s burden of guilt. I think I missed the boat here. People want to ‘feel’ her guilt.

I printed the comments and suggestions and I’ve read through them.  I understand what readers want, but I’m not seeing the distance. I don’t know why. What I do know is that I’ll have to read that first chapter until I get a much better understanding of what I need to do to make my MC more sympathetic. As of right now, I have a job to do. Namely:

1.    Make the main character more flesh and blood. Tap into her emotions.
2.    Make her husband less sympathetic. I think I’ll have to start a quarrel or something. Currently, he’s more like an annoyance of the fly or mosquito variety.
3.    Have Justine think about ending the relationship with her lover way up in the chapter.

This is one of those times when in the back of my mind I’m not sure I can do what needs to be done. But since I want need that agent, I have no choice about doctoring the most crucial part of the manuscript – the beginning.
Wish me luck and inspiration.


  1. I'm having a similar problem with the opening of Priscilla 3. Reviewers say they are not connected to her. Which is why I can't offer you any advice on your project. I think we're just too close to our work.

  2. Thanks for stopping in. I reworked the opening tonight. I hoping it works better.

    I didn't see that with Priss, but it does make you sort of wander around blindly until you can fix the problem once you find out it's there.


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