It’s not something you expect the day after you put down the manuscript and say to yourself; “that’s finished then!” but there’s that little voice inside your head, whispering like Gollum; “you know he’s right precious!”
He was right and I was wrong.
The thing is if you ask people to read your manuscript and give you some feedback then you have to accept their comments with good grace, so when my friend told me to change the first chapter I should have considered his opinion seriously and not just ignored it.
Did I know that he was right even then?
Probably. The thing is I liked my fists chapter but I knew also that it just did not cut the mustard as far as opening chapters go. He suggested promoting the second chapter because it had everything a first chapter should; pace, excitement, a big brawl.
Then again, the original first chapter had some mystery about it, some good descriptive writing; I thought it made a good opening but I knew it did not make a smash an grab entrance.
Deciding to rewrite an entire chapter at this late stage is not something to be taken lightly but it had to be done. More than that the only way I could rescue something from the old chapter one was to merge it with an existing chapter as the same principal character appears in both of them.
So I copied the two chapters into a new file and opened a fresh blank sheet and then waited for something to happen. And it did. A new scene flowed from my fingers that helped add a new dimension to a historical character. It was curiously reminiscent to an earlier scene featuring the main protagonist, that is, similar but not the same. It created a link between the two that I could build upon in the second novel.
The strength of this new chapter seemed to be demonstrated by the fact that I could insert much of what I thought was my best writing in the original opening chapter. By using a simple writing device I was able to combine the new and the old in something that was much better.
Surprisingly this did not take too long either. I tapped out over 5,000 words in a couple of hours, reviewed it, rewrote a bit, and then inserted it seamlessly into the main manuscript.
It felt good. It felt right. I wish I had done it earlier. I suppose that is the lesson that has to be learnt; if you ask for advice you have to be honest enough to listen to what is given to you, that way you won’t end up making last minute major alterations to your work!