We shall begin today’s lesson with a personal anecdote.
My current goal is to edit Chasing Nonconformity. This is going very poorly, because every time I sit down and open up the file, it begins on page 1 — also known as Chapter One. Now, logic dictates I would just skip ahead in the document to wherever I need to edit and go from there. But before I do that, I happen to notice a slight re-wording I can do on paragraph three. Okay, that’s better … oh, but I don’t like how Eris rolls her eyes in paragraph five. And I missed a comma in paragraph 7 … maybe I should keep reading …
Three hours later, Chapter One has completely changed for the zillionth time and I’m no closer to finishing the darn draft than when I started.
As I’m learning, the trick to editing a book is to get past the first chapter. Once you’ve broken through that barrier, sky’s the limit! No, I take that back. There is no limit. The first chapter is a pair of steel shackles and you are the Hulk, summoning up your anger, stoking the fires of your wrath, bigger and hotter and higher and flamier until BOOM! Free of the shackles, free of the first chapter, ready to show the rest of your story who’s boss. (relevant link)
Thus, I present to you …
10 Ways to Get Past the First Chapter
- Highlight Chapter 1, cut it, and paste it at the end of your document so it isn’t the first thing you see.
- Never turn off your computer or close your document file so you can always keep your place in the manuscript.
- Hire someone to slap you in the face with a lightly salted salmon fillet every time you try to edit Chapter 1.
- Change the font color of Chapter 1 to white text so you can’t see it.
- Search “Chapter 2” and don’t look at the screen until you know you’re in the right place.
- Hire someone to slap you in the face with a braised lamb shank every time you try to sneak back to edit Chapter 1 whilst pretending to edit the rest of the manuscript.
- Hire someone to scream directly in your ear every time Chapter 1 appears on-screen in order to mentally connect the first chapter with complete terror.
- Commit a crime and go to jail. Hard to edit Chapter 1 without a computer.
- Hire that guy from Inception to sneak into your mind and brainwash you into forgetting Chapter 1 exists.
- Summon up some basic willpower and just skip the first chapter.
As you can see, some are more practical than others. I myself will be starting with #3. I wanted to go with #6, but lamb is significantly more expensive than salmon and I am poor.
Thank you for sharing in my madness. For all those Canadians out there, Happy Thanksgiving!
Unrelated media of the day:
I love this. So many writers want to edit while they write. I never edit one word until I’ve written the last.