A lot of you out there are working on NaNoWriMo and arguably one of the most important things about a book is the beginning, so this week we're going to be talking all about beginnings of books.
There's one problem.
I don't really know that much about beginnings.
Here's the thing: originally, the first chapter of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was Chapter 4. When I sent the book out to beta readers, nearly all of them felt the original beginning was kind of "blah" and that the book really picked up in Chapter 4.
The problem was, I knew that most of the time when an agent asks for a partial, he'll ask for the first three chapters.
"This sucks," I said to myself (being prone to talking to myself when I was an angsty writer). "I want them to see Chapter 4! Should I break the rules and just send the fourth chapter anyway?"
"No," myself replied. "That's a sure way for an agent to dismiss your work."
"Then what do I do?" I wailed (being also prone to wailing).
"Cut the first three chapters."
To be honest: I sort of shocked myself. I needed those first four chapters, didn't I? I needed to explain how Amy got selected, how Elder was born on the ship. I needed all that background, right?
Turns out, I didn't.
So--write the book the way you want. But when it comes time to edit, you need to figure out what your best chapter is, the point where the reader sits up and says, "Whoa."
Then cut everything before that.
(PS: If you'd like to read the first chapter of my sequel, A MILLION SUNS, click here! And for the record--that was originally a Chapter 5, and I cut the four chapters before it.)