I’ve heard this so many times. Start your story with the action, don’t work up to it. Don’t make the reader wait for something to happen, etc. So why, oh why, did I do just that? I thought I was done, the book was marvelous, I had it going on! Then I re-read (for the umpteenth time) and realize that it takes a helluva long time to get to the action. Jeez! So I’m back to square one and punching it up.
As much as we want our work to be bullet-proof, it’s not. Each time someone reads it and gives a critique, we must decide what to keep and what to use. This time, it was obvious…”Why is it so slow in the beginning?” my friend asked. “It’s so powerful the rest of the book and with so much action. Shouldn’t that be up front?” DUH! Of course it should and I am blind.
Read any YA book and you’ll see that 95 percent of the time, the action starts right up front. Percy Jackson is a great example. He’s on a field trip with his class, walking through a museum and Pow! his teaching turns into a flying creature and tries to kill him. Every kid reading the book was hooked right there. Same thing with the first Harry Potter-he’s under the stairs and he keeps getting letters….they won’t stop till Hagrid shows up. It’s right up front… And that’s why agents want just the first few pages. It’s all up front, if it doesn’t start out powerful how can they expect anything more?
So, I’ve learned my lesson and I’m back to working on Ch. 1. Not discouraged at all, just grateful for a friend who pointed out a flaw. Put the action up front…it’s my new motto (and should have been all along).