This morning has been rather exciting. Yesterday I had an epiphany regarding my struggles with the opening chapter to my MG fantasy novel Sword of Fate: If I want it to be good, I must not settle. Just because the words flowed easily when I first wrote them, doesn’t necessarily mean they belong there. I read a description of what makes an MG novel yesterday, “Fantasy books for kids are often ‘first time’ books for their young readers–the first time visiting a world that’s truly strange, the first time meeting the talking animals who come to the aid of the hero, the first time the magic sword is found, or the monster slain” and I said to myself, “Yes! That is Sword of Fate!” Like the article says, my protagonist Rugal is “faced with new, strange challenges that rock the foundations of their worlds, and their stories involve growing up, figuring out who they are, and how to be strong and keep going when hope seems far away.”
Then I reread my first chapter and faced the cold hard truth. While I have a solid manuscript, the first chapter doesn’t do the rest of the book justice. I have read over and over how agents hate getting a manuscript where the author points out that it gets better after the first 10-20-30 pages. So why did I have such a hard time applying this knowledge to myself? To be honest, it was because I was determined to make what I had already written work. I finally realized that by holding onto that attitude like a dog on a bone can be detrimental to the entire project. Sometimes you have to let something go in order to make something better. Actually, this is a much better situation than the first chapter being great but the rest of the book not doing it justice, because it means most of my revision will take place in the first chapter while tweaking the manuscript to accommodate any newly revealed information that may need adjusting.
So I am all about a new beginning today. The ideas started percolating in my head last night and became a hastily typed paragraph. I’m already up to 1200 words, I’m having a lot of fun, and best of all, I already can see improvement. I wonder why I hung on so long but I think that is our tendency as human beings. It’s hard to let go of the familiar and try something different. But if we can bring ourselves to let go and try, amazing things can happen. That applies to life in general too…sometimes we need to let go and try something new. God may have something much better for us ahead that we can’t see from our vantage point, but it requires us being willing to try something different in order to get there.
[image courtesy of paladin13 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]