I’m not one to show emotion in public. Apart from the occasional bouts of hearty laughter, I’m about as expressive as a Vulcan with resting bitch face. No joke, at my wedding rehearsal my family all had the note that we needed to look like my husband and I liked each other. When I say “I don’t hate it” I’m about maxed out in the enthusiasm department.
With that in mind, I kind of hate my opening chapter. I don’t fully hate it, but in the ever unhelpful words of my boss, “It just doesn’t pop.”
It starts off kind of slow and while it builds to something that I hate less, it doesn’t quite charm me the way that it had when I first wrote it. I think it was that I took out some of the more crass language because not everyone speaks gay as fluently as I do. Without this humour, it doesn’t work. Since I’ve been thinking a lot about the querying process and I’ll have to submit the first however many pages, I worry that eagle-eyed agents will be similarly unimpressed by it and this will ravage my confidence. Of course in the grand scheme of things, the agents are only doing what many readers do when they thumb through the first few pages, and revising this now will only help me, but still.
“But still…” The tired aspiring author whines before remembering that he.is.the.author.
It occurred to me this afternoon that while I don’t fully hate it, it’s not unsalvageable. As the person writing the story, I can do whatever the heck I want with it to fix it. So, on my lunch break I took out my biggest scariest red pen and started to work. Soon I found that the task wasn’t as big as I had made it out in my mind. The bones of it are all still there, I just needed to bring the funny. I needed to make it pop.
It’s still not done, I do spend some of my lunch break actually eating afterall (see: waist-size), but it’s closer to something I don’t hate.
There are a metric shit ton of resources out there for honing your first few pages. One blog that I’m quite taken with at the moment, I Believe in Story, has a post about revising first pages written by Maria Vicente with the advice to view it in sections. Ask yourself is the first line great? Is the first paragraph great? Go from there.
(For the record, no my first line is not great)