Monday, January 30, 2012


I'm not so sure writing novels is all that hard, but writing a good one sure is! I've been working over the beginning few chapters of my newset novel for an eternity (translation: a couple weeks) and today I'm frustrated! The problem is: hmmm... I'm not exactly sure what the problem is.

In my first novel, my protagonist was relocating on page one, so he didn't know anybody until they hit the pages of the book. In this next one, my protagonist knows exactly where he is, who everyone else is and what is or isn't expected of him every day of his life --with the exception of the one new person who turns everything in his life on its ear intentionally and unitentionally. I hadn't realized what an advantage I had with the other book. It's tough to establish a protagonist, his routine and all the relevant people around him without bogging down the first few chapters.

Actually, chapter one was a cinch to write once I decided which chapter one to actually call "Chapter One". I set up a lot and foreshadowed even more (although I don't think many people will realize until a ways into the book just how much information I fed them in that first chapter.) It's chapter two that seems tricky; that transitional chapter between meaningful introductions and dramatic momentum.

How do you get past the beginning? Or what books have you read that have a lot of characters introduced early on yet don't drag in the beginning? I think it's time to go browse the bookshelves for a bit...


  1. I know where you are coming from! I've spent the last two months working on one chapter. My problem isn't necessarily introducing a bunch of characters, but it's getting the reader to care about the ones I do introduce. You are so right; writing a novel is easy. Writing a good one, not so much.

  2. Susan, that's exactly it. Throwing names into the pool is easy. Making the reader care quickly whether they drown or not is the challenge.

    I'm beginning to think I may need to considate at few locations in my beginning, so at least something becomes quickly familiar to the readers.

  3. Yes! I totally agree. The beginning of a novel is the hardest part. It's very difficult to slip in backstory without seeming heavy-handed. Sometimes I try to ask myself what the reader needs to know immediately. Everything else, I try to introduce later. Then I try to slip these things in a little at a time --as a sentence of internal monologue here or there between dialogue or other action.

    Good luck on nailing those first few chapters!