Chapter One Blues ~ Revisited

Surprise, surprise, I’m still reworking chapter one.

The truth is, I’ve made more work for myself, because now I have two versions that need help.

The first version is what I posted on CC for critique then edited. I added several details and a short description of Sarah’s surroundings. I also added some hints about her past.

After finishing this edit, I put it aside hoping for some distance before re-posting on CC.

The problem is, I’m impatient.

Enter—the second version. It’s an experiment, so bear with me here.

Over the last year I’ve spent hours researching and reading stories written by rape survivors. I found one underlying similarity to these stories.  The ‘out of body’ experience. Almost every victim seemed to mentally separate their minds from their physical bodies as if their survival depended on it.

I’ve known this all along, but I never attempted to write it because Sarah escapes her attacker. I wanted to show her strength by having her fight off the rapist. (This also leads into more conflict in later chapters.)

But—as I sat impatiently waiting to get the distance I needed from chapter one, I couldn’t resist the challenge.

I rewrote it. Of course I rewrote it! Only I’m not sure my idea translated well to the page.  I spent nearly 12 hours working on it Saturday until my brain was completely fried. On Sunday, I opened the file to find nothing but crap.

I spent so much time on it, it looked like a piece of Darksculptures road killbefore she made a lovely stew out of it.

Not having anyone to bounce ideas off of made me crazy. My teenage daughters ran from me every time I looked in their direction and my husband nodded obediently and pretended to listen. He even offered a couple of helpful questions occasionally like “Is she dead?” but nothing really concrete.

At one point it read as if Sarah was dead. Then she never seemed to wake from unconsciousness. When I had her wake from unconsciousness, then into this ‘out-of-body’ experience it was too abrupt and transitioned too fast. To make a long story short, I slaughtered it completely.

My intention was to get closer to Sarah while getter further away from the crime, hoping to add some emotion

So…back to my blues. Should I keep trying? Or just post my edited version on CC and see what happens.  I’m not sure how to add the effect of an out-of-body experience and a successful escape.  I’m also not sure how to have her get knocked unconscious, then wake, then have an out-of-body experience, then escape.

I think I need distance from my distance! 😉

10 thoughts on “Chapter One Blues ~ Revisited

  • Here is my suggestion and of course take it with a grain of salt.

    I say remove yourself from chapter one. Do a quick grammar and punctuation edit on Chapter two and post it to CC. Don’t alter anything from the way it is written and posted here in terms of content. See how the crits come back on your natural style where you have not tried to force through any changes. You have possibly over edited chapter one.

    I think Kirsten had a good point – move on to the next chapter after you work your way through the rest of the novel, chapter one will rewrite itself based on future discovery and need.

    You may find it is not necessary at all, which was my origional gut instinct.

  • Distance is always good. Getting other opinions on the chapter is good too, but as you’ve found, there will be vastly different opinions on what to do, and you can’t possibly follow all of their conflicting advice. So, at some point, you have to trust yourself and what feels right to you. Someone gave the advice once that a reader can tell you what is wrong with something, and that they are almost always right, but if they tell you HOW to fix it then they are almost always wrong. Because it’s your story, and only you can write it. Maybe that’s extreme and I could think of exceptions, but the heart of the advice is true. It just sounds like you’ve gotten to the point where you don’t trust yourself to write this chapter. I’d say move on for a while. Work on the rest of the story or a different story until you regain your confidence and perspective. What’s the standard advice? Six weeks? Or until it seems strage and somewhat foreign, like you recognize your writing but you can look at it like someone else wrote it.

    Ha. I took two months off from my last draft, and finally printed out the first half of it a week ago. It is STILL sitting on my desk. I haven’t read a page of it. Scared shitless I am. So, take that previous advice for whatever it’s worth. 🙂

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one scared shitless! You almost made me snort out my coffee this morning. Thanks!

  • Okay, do I have to go to CC to find this chapter?

    I haven’t read it, (and I’m happy to if you’d like more feedback) but I’m inclined to agree with Kirsten and DS that you should leave the chapter alone for now and move on with the rest of the story.

    Then come back to chapter one on the next iteration of your overall revision — whatever has happened in this round of revision may make it clearer to you how chapter one should start.

    • I have a better version than what’s on CC, if you want to read it I can email it to you. Just to warn you, it is a rape scene. I didn’t want to force it on anyone or post it to my blog.
      The truth is, I’ve been fighting with chapter one for a long time. I’ve written more chapter ones than War and Peace has chapters. 🙂 Okay, maybe not that many but close.

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