Thursday, July 29, 2010


I had a good discussion with my agent. He gave me feedback on the first 50 pages of my new novel. In a word to describe the first 50 pages: useless. Well, maybe I'm being too harsh, but he didn't think those first 50 pages should start the novel. He said it was all exposition. Start with action, action, action!

The funny thing is I know this. This was the same note I got with my last novel. These are "throat-clearing" pages. Now, that it's clear, maybe I could start anew. Here is the first paragraph that I wrote this morning.

Chapter One

"It was never my intention to be a father, let alone be a father to a sick child. My wife wanted a baby and I’d do anything for her. Through my ups and downs as a writer, she’d stuck by me. Now, she wanted this. She wanted to be a mother. We adopted because we can’t have any of our own. If I’d known our son would be sick, I wouldn’t have done it. Frankly, I wanted to give him back."


tfcinnyc said...

I'm the last person to offer any advice to someone as accomplished as you on the writing of fiction. But I think of Walker Percy's "The Movie Goer," (and I'm only about 33% sure I got the title right), didn't that blend exposition and action? I don't know how it sells, but I think you can break the "show, don't tell" rule if the exposition puts the story in context or makes it more interesting.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this post. You were the first person to tell me that I was starting my book in the wrong place- not 50 pages worth, but wrong nonetheless. Physician, heal thyself, eh? I didn't have to look up your notes. You said, "I want to get to know Bailey right away." What sage advice. Here is what it inspired:

A genius may have picked up on the clues sooner, but I’m Bailey Galway, USC dropout and masseuse to Hollywood elite, and the day my most famous client was murdered, I was, once again, preoccupied with my career.

What a teacher. Hope all is well with you,
Carson Flanders

Cheryl said...

Sometimes you know it, but you just need to hear it from someone else. The new opening paragraph packs a punch. (But hopefully you know that too.)