For the last week, I’ve been digging through my old chapters and re-writing them. My first two chapters were over 7000 words each, and quite frankly, I don’t need even half of what I had written. I trimmed away the fat, fixed some scenes, and have moved on. The first chunk of my novel is almost rewritten, and I’m still not happy with it.
I know the first few chapters of the pages should accomplish several things:
- Introduce the plot.
- Introduce the protagonist and her personality.
- Give the readers the setting, tone, and overall mood.
- Start with a catalyst that immediately changes the character and forces her to work.
So far, the only thing I’ve accomplished is the plot. I’m writing a novel about changing, being narrated by a control-freak who refuses to acknolwedge change. Naturally, she should change right from the start of chapter one. Cross that off the list.
I think I hate my main character. I hated her before, and then she and I got along for a little while, and then I hated her again. I feel like she’s too stagnant and too boring, and as a result she’s not very realistic. She’s in denial about everything- she’s the sort of person who will be in a sinking submarine with water spewing in, but completely calm. “It’s all under control,” even when everything is clearly not okay. She intentionally isolates herself because she can’t control what other people do and she does a good job of pretending she’s not lonely.
How the hell is anyone going to relate to her?
Sure, when she changes she opens up, discovers that it’s okay to care about other people, that it’s okay to ask for help when things go out of hand, and maybe admitting she’s wrong isn’t such a bad thing.
I worry that no one is even going to get to the point-of-change. It happens pretty quickly; by the end of chapter 5, her personality has already shifted while she copes with the events of the plot. Act 1 is mostly action- this happens, then this, then this, now BOOM DEAL WITH IT- but the changes feel a little too subtle. Protagonist in Chapter 1 and Protagonist in Chapter 4 are different, but only barely. Protagonist in Chapter 1 isn’t very likable. Protagonist in chapter 4 isn’t very likable, either.
I don’t always want a likable character narrating a story when I read, but I do want someone relatable. I guess she isn’t struggling enough, but it’s hard to acknolwedge a struggle when she won’t acknowledge anything else.
It’s also hard to scrap her and get a completely new character when it’s her voice I hear telling the story.
Even though it’s a re-write, these are still technically rough drafts. I don’t expect them to be perfect, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting.