Like many of us I’m fortunate to have a seasoned writer who mentors me and will look at my work occasionally. I recently asked her to look at what I was about to submit and she did.
As I waited, I wondered if she’d get it. Would she think it was better than the last piece of garbage I had her read? Or would she think it was drivel and suggest I use it as a starter for our summer campfires? Nope. She suggested something far worse…
Overall, she thought it was better. She also gave me a lot of positive feedback that I could work with, but the biggest, most frightening thing she suggested--that I cut twenty-nine pages from the beginning. Twenty-nine pages! I can’t even tell you how long it took me to pour out those twenty-nine pages. She was being absurd. Ridiculous. There was no way I could cut twenty-nine pages and not lose the whole setup for the story. I didn’t even know if it was possible to weave it all together in a way that didn’t confuse the reader without those early pages.
She thought it would be better and more immediate if we were dropped into the action faster. I thought I was in the action already. She thought it would be better if the two main characters met earlier in the story. Chapter three is early. Right? I couldn’t see any way for them to meet sooner. Nope. Not possible.
So, I thrashed about for a couple days and prayed about it. I really took the time to brainstorm alternate beginnings and ways I could make the relationship between the hero and heroine appear earlier in the story without it seeming forced.
After a couple days, I did it. I hit the delete button. Well, not before I copied and pasted the twenty-nine pages into a new document. You know…just in case she was wrong.You know what happened? I had a story that started on page one. Not page thirty. I had two people that had chemistry from the first chapter. Not chapter three. I had improved my story. No matter how painful it was to hit that delete button.
It was tough, but I did it. And the story is better for it. What about you? Does your story start at a place that captures the reader from page one? Have you ever had to delete large sections of your work and why? Did it make the story better?