First pages

Done today: Still on first five chapters

Revision remaining: 149 pages

Daily pages needed to be finished by end of November: 3.5

I feel as though I’m not getting anywhere with my revising when I look at my stats, but revising can sometimes be slower than writing. This is time when you’re considering so much more. With the first draft, you’re vomiting on the page, to use a lovely industry-used image, and vomiting is quick. But with revision, you’re thoughtfully picking and choosing the best part of that vomit, moving it around for the nicest picture, and that takes time — ok, enough with the vomit. 🙂

As I’ve mentioned, I’m going to the North Texas SCBWI conference tomorrow, and one of the features there is Dutton Children’s Books’ Lisa Yoskowitz critiquing attendee’s manuscript first pages. So, last night, I spent time going over mine.

I had already revised my first chapter and gotten great comments at my critique group (and I have a bunch of talented writers in my group), but as I looked it over, I remembered something I’ve read a lot lately: Don’t include backstory in the first chapter. Bring it in later.

I had some backstory in my first chapter, in fact, in my first page (well, technically, it was fore-story, my character thinking about his family and what was happening that day), but I thought, what’s wrong with that? It’s quick, interesting, and adds to the character and story. And, I’ve read books that have that … surely.

I pulled out some books, and, you know what, none of them had thoughts explaining things in the first page, even first chapter. And I understood them fine and was interested to keep reading.

I hadn’t really noticed this before. So, as an experiment, I went through my first chapter and took out everything that explained things. I wasn’t sure that it would work, but I figured, best to try than to not.

What I came up with surprised me. My new first chapter had the same essence and interest as the original. Plus, I found new voice in the character in joining up the parts that were left. And everything that was cut can be added in later.

It reminded me of the book I’m reading now, book four in Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles. With three books’ worth of stories behind her, she weaved in the information that was needed when it was needed, and it wasn’t missed early.

This morning, I asked my husband to read my new first page, and after he did, he asked, “What did you change?” I guess my explanations weren’t missed either.

I’m looking at my revision under a bit of a different light now.

What are you working on?

Write On!


What do you think?