The International Thriller Writers organization hosts weekly blogs on questions they put to their member authors and readers. Coming up on March 9, the blog question is: “Do some writers tend to work too hard, too long on the first chapter? How do you avoid that pitfall?”
Here’s my response.
Certainly, there is tremendous pressure on authors, particularly those aspiring to be published for the first time, to write a smashing first chapter; a chapter that sells an agent on reading the whole manuscript and convinces an editor to buy the novel.
While a fast moving, well written first chapter—suspense launched and tension crackling—is necessary, it’s not sufficient to ensure your novel will sell well, a key goal for most writers.
I would suggest that the climax chapter is at least as important, if not more important, than the first chapter. The climax pulls together all that has gone before it into a deeply satisfying moment of revelation and/or emotional release, making the novel memorable and recommendable, a word of mouth phenomenon to drive rewarding sales.
How would you answer the questions?
Douglass Seaver, Author
The Fourth Rule