So I’m in a bit of a quandary. I’m working on the revision, and I have to decide primarily what to do with the beginning. Almost all of the comments I got focused on the first chapter or so, with most saying it was too slow. So what’s the debate? Well, it’s do I trim it, or cut it altogether? I’m going to try to work this out on screen as I type–we’ll see where it goes.

When facing a decision like this, the first question I have to ask myself is what exactly is the first chapter accomplishing? For those of you who haven’t read it, it basically introduces the main character (Parker), his love interest (Jess) and some minor characters. Parker intros his job at McDonald’s, has a conflict with a customer–that sort of thing. THe chapter establishes a couple of goals for Parker, and hints at larger conflicts to come. We get an overview of Parker’s pop culture fixations–that sort of thing.

So what is there that needs to be there? The more I look at it, the more I’m thinking: not much. Some of the McDonald’s stuff is interesting, but nothing there really relates to the rest of the story. I can still intro Parker and Jess in chapter 2, and I get to the real conflict faster that way, too. In fact, the more I think about it, the less I think chapter 1 needs to exist.

So my question for those of you who have read it: do YOU think it needs to exist? Please speak up–the beginning is one of the most important parts of a book, and I need this to get off on the right foot.

10 thoughts on “Revision”

  1. I’m not sure you need to remove the chapter altogether. I could see that its point was to introduce the characters. But I agree that it seemed to take it’s time getting to the action, so I would definitely look towards condensing it while still introducing Parker, Jess, and Marlin.
    Regarding the friend that gets knocked off later, I’m not sure there was enough there to make me think he was very important to the story. So maybe you cut much of Parker’s interaction with him and just allude back to him later as the one good friend he had at McDonalds.
    Another thing I’m thinking is that I didn’t get to liking Parker that much until later in the book. In chapter one he struck me as kind of a smart alec. Maybe you should make the boss more of a jerk and Parker more of a sympathetic figure to us; someone we want to root for right away.
    Those are just my impressions. It’s been a while since I read chapter one and I’m kind of an oldster to be reviewing a book like this so I’ll be interested to read what others have to say.

  2. Thanks for the comments–I’m wondering if one of the reasons people think of him as a smart alec at first is because he IS one in the first chapter, and that’s their first introduction to him . . .

  3. I remember enjoying the first chapter, but I also remember it feeling somewhat disconnected from the rest of the book. It feels a bit like a Simpsons episode, how they start one place and end up somewhere completely different, which works great for them, but I’m not sure works so well in novel format. I suspect with a bit of tweaking you could start with the Godfather scene in Chapter 2 in a pretty natural way. So long as you rename it Chapter 1.
    But keep in mind it’s been a couple months, so I’m working off vague memories here.

  4. OK, now I want to read your book. It’s not that I didn’t before, but I can’t read it and then read a revision, I’m just not capable. Should I wait for the revision?
    Also, is it YA genre? Because I just happen to have a 12 1/2 year old who needs to read 1,000 pages per quarter.

  5. chapter 1
    I agree with the previous comments that chapter 1 doesn’t seem to fit well with the rest of the book, but maybe that is your best chance to grab a reader like me: one who has never picked up a zombie book (on the other hand, maybe your goal is to appeal to zombie readers, and not to convert the non-zombie-readers). I do think you’d be well-served to make Parker more sympathetic, though I think its important to meet his pop-culture/smart-aleck personality right off the bat.

  6. Re: chapter 1
    Yeah–I’m leaning heavily toward cutting chapter one, then incorporating some of the best stuff of it into chapter two. Parker’s always a smart alec–but he’s a particularly bad smart alec in chapter one, which makes him less than sympathetic . . .

  7. I wanted to wait and read some of the other comments before chiming in again. Looks like I’m not too far off base in mine. I think smart alec is OK. I just want to have some reason to really like my hero and to me he was too annoying at the beginning but got better as the book went along.
    Ever think of having him wreck his car by falling asleep and hitting a tree on his way IN to work at McDonalds and then starting the story there? Even though you obviously know the incident I’m referring to, I’m only half kidding about that as an idea. Maybe Jen comes along and offers him a ride after he talks to the cops and the car gets towed. Hey, it’s so crazy it just might work!

  8. You know what–that’s not too bad of an idea. I’m going to seriously consider having something like that happen. Maybe not exactly that–but something close . . .

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