Book One Update: I rewrote Chapter One.
I know that I’m supposed to be drafting Book Two, but I have to be honest with you, Dear Reader. I’ve been querying Book One steadily since the summer months, but there hasn’t been much success. I do have one full request out to an agent now, and I’m hopeful to hear back from him (it’s been 47 days since I submitted my full MS). However, other agents have rejected my queries without asking for anything beyond what was submitted.
This is par for the course, and I’m proud to be among the writers who’ve earned their proverbial battle scars. And I know that a lot of agents have rejected me based on the query letter itself (which I’m planning on rewriting tomorrow or Friday), but a few have commented that the first chapter didn’t pull them in.
Have you, fellow writers, heard the same line? I know it’s frustrating, but we’ve always heard that the first chapter is the worst chapter–it has to be the Baby Bear chapter for our agents–not too hot, not too cold, but just right. And it’s achievable! We just have to be willing to write and rewrite until it gets there, even if that means getting nearly 50 agent rejections in the process. (Me.)
Their statements aren’t personal. Remember, fellow writer, that publishing is a business, and the agent has to believe that he/she can sell your MS. Plus, if one agent declines to receive any more material but another wants more MORE MORE, then be encouraged that you’re on the right path. Writing a novel is always a process, even if an agent liked it but needs it to be revised. AN AGENT LIKED IT–take that and run with it. Then revise with rough abandon, knowing that you’re on your way.
(You’re always on your way, as long as you’re writing. Never give up. Never stop. You’re not an aspiring writer. If you’re writing, then you’re a writer. Period.)
So, mulling the Chapter One Problem over and over in my mind, I decided to rework my MS’s beginning to see how I can strengthen it. It’s going to require some finesse, as later chapters will need to be tweaked to accommodate the change, but it has helped me to see this MS as a moldable piece of writing instead of something set in stone. And what I’ve tweaked, a the moment, isn’t a massive overhaul of narrative and plot. When I get it set from this point, and when I get my query letter revised, we’ll see if the replies from agents change (for better or worse).
This little writing experiment is meant to keep me thinking about ways to make my MS stronger. I’m not looking to perform another revision on the MS–at least, not yet. The story itself is in a decent place. (Will it ever be in a great place? Is any MS?) For right now, I want the beginning to pull readers in and make them want to keep going.
Here’s to making my MS the best that it can be. Fingers crossed.