I've read all the writing advice on the entire planet (HYPERBOLE ALERT), but I still never realized how wrong I was about my own writing. Everyone will advise you never to put a backstory infodump in the first chapter of your novel. They say no one will ever find that information as interesting as you do. They warn it is one of the biggest turn-offs for readers, agents, and editors.
But...but...I write fantasy, which means I NEEDED to have a ton of backstory so my readers wouldn't be confused. They had to know how the world worked, right? What better way to introduce that world than with an interesting history. It's only a page or two, and it's FASCINATING!!! Right?
The only person who found my exposition of the history of my main character was ME.
The funny thing is, I NEVER wrote another opening like that for the sequels. When I started this series, I felt I needed to understand the history so I'd be able to write the novel in the first place. I wrote that chapter for myself. And I never realized how unnecessary any of it was.
There were so many beautiful lines. So many relevant tidbits. I never realized that I brought most of those bits up later in the MS where they were actually relevant to the plot. They didn't need to live in a huge chunk of text in the first chapter.
|AAARGH! MY EYES! IT BURNS!|
I know now that I am not the Special Snowflake. I am NOT the exception to the rule.
I cringed and took a hatchet to chapter one, and I am SO GLAD I did.
Total cut: five pages. 1492 words.
I FEEL SO SPARKLY NOW!!!
I'd heard the phrase, "Murder your darlings!" I'd always thought that applied to someone else. I was stricken to think it could apply to me. But you know what? It's the best thing I've ever done for my writing.