Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First Lines Revisted (again and again and again)

An agent requested the first hundred pages of my novel, and I was just getting ready to send them (Oh they were so perfect!) when I happened to reread chapter 1.

And I hated it!

Back to the drawing board.

The only first line I come back to over and over is the one I started with 2 years ago. The one that precipitated the cascading out of the rest of the novel.

"Kate hated to read."

But but but....I protest to myself. But I can't get away from it. The purpose of the first page, I tell myself, is to introduce the characters and setting, primarily. I'm not even going to try to introduce the entire problem on the first page because it is a complex issue--princess is missing, witches have taken over, and only Kate can fix it. (Funny that I haven't been able to distill it to that before, and now it was so EASY!). That comes within the first few chapters, anyway. I introduce the "urban fantasy" part's setting on the first page (used bookstore in the fall). So that leaves me with the character for the first paragraphs.

And "Kate hated to read" is a good way to start an introduction to this character, who says she hates to read but it well versed in both literary convention and the details of the literature, and who is sixteen but is just moving into an apartment above a used bookstore.

So I rewrote the beginning. Again. Back to square one, but with different words and not so long. Back to an introduction to all of Kate through an explanantion of her relationship with books. Back to possibly boring, but back to where I started and where I keep coming to.

Hopefully that's because it's actually the right beginning instead of being "like a dog to his vomit", as they say.

Rewrote that beginning twice, getting it just right and polished, and am now reading for typos in the 100 pages, which I thought were perfect but needed some tweaking (that resulted in the whole book being 6000 words shorter), and I'll send the partial off tonight.

I know you aren't supposed to query until it's all perfect. My problem is I always think it's perfect. And then I can always find something to fix.

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