Honestly, you wouldn’t believe the trouble I’m having with the first chapter of the Frenchman. Having planned out the conflict and a good idea about how I was going to start, I then somehow lost my mojo.
My problem is that I actually wrote three chapters of this last year, way back before I had a good idea about any of the stuff I know now about conflict and character etc. And I really liked those three chapters. Yes, they were gimmicky and I made my characters do things without thinking through their motivation, but I still really liked them. Being good, I thought I’d can them and start the story off afresh, with a new beginning that was less gimmicky and based more on the characters themselves. But you know what? After writing it first from her POV and then from his, it just didn’t work for me. It felt stilted and not particularly dynamic. And this was a pain because I find that if I can’t get my first chapter to work well enough, I can’t write the rest of it! Now I can write ahead, though I don’t normally, but the first chapter is the scene setter. It’s the first glimpse of the h&h too and if it’s not right, then this has a flow on effect for me and writing the rest feels like pulling teeth.
So, anyway, after three failed attempts at a new beginning. I went back to my old one to see if I could tweak it so it was less gimmicky. But still I had problems with it. Finally I thought about changing the setting to see if that helped and at last – draft 5! – I think I’ve got it the way I want. For now. Maybe I’ll change it after I’ve written the rest of the story but at least it’s done enough for me to feel comfortable with writing on.
Why did I want the gimmicky beginning? Basically because it taps directly into the hero’s conflict. It features the hero in a situation where he has no control and the heroine having it instead. The previous drafts didn’t have a situation that made it difficult for either of them. And if it’s not difficult for the characters then there’s no tension. And I wanted that tension.
So how about the rest of you? Do you find first chapters difficult? Or is it just me?? 🙂