I thought I’d written chapter one already. All the way back in October, to be exact, as part of a development exercise for one of my protagonists, A. I remember re-reading those five hundred and twenty eight words and being captivated by her character, deciding to begin the entire novel right then and there, at that seemingly routine moment in which she rises from bed in her quintessentially Upper West Side home and begins to prepare for another day as an infamous art collector. It was so perfect, I had thought. The perfect beginning.
Confession: On that day in October, I had absolutely no idea how the plot of my novel would unfold. There were no complex outlines, no intricate maps of conflicts and resolution… Yes, I had a creeping suspicion of how it all would end. But in hindsight, not even that turned out to resemble the actual resolution of the novel at all. The characters I thought would survive? They weren’t so lucky. And the ones I planned to kill off within the first half of the book? Many of them escaped unscathed.
So, what about that lovely first chapter? The one that sees A sipping on a perfectly steeped cup of tea and musing on her latest acquisition–a highly sought after Rembrandt? It’s not going anywhere, as I just can’t part with it… But I can’t help but feel it is no longer the right place for A’s story to begin. Because her story didn’t begin there: it began years earlier, and to exclude all that drama just wouldn’t be fair to the reader–– or to the characters.
First major revision? I’m writing a new first chapter, one that fits the crime-novel-esque mood of the rest of the story and provides some much needed background on A. So far, I’m thinking about a sort of flashblack, or major step back in time, that depicts the exact moment that A’s rivalry with B began, or maybe even why their struggle over C ended up being such a big, deadly deal.
Until the next chapter…