Some times, all it takes is for one person to tell you you’re wrong before you can get it right. I started my ninth attempt to get “The Bureau of Lost Films” off the ground with a brand new Chapter One that pretty much discarded all of my previous ideas and adheres to the outline I spent three weeks creating in order to avoid my unfortunate proclivity of exiting the highway onto side streets.. Gone is the bookstore, the trivia contest, neo-Nazi’s and a lost Charlie Chaplin film. In its place are…well, why give the cow away?
I wrote a first Chapter introducing the main character and his ill-fated cohort and their plans to steal something valuable. This would, of course, lead to into the narrative of the main plot. As I usually do, I read the chapter to my wife and personal librarian, the Magnificent Marina, and she floored me with this response: “I like it…but it seems too slow and I got lost somewhere in the middle.”
Ulp! When you’re writing a presumptive thriller, the worst thing someone can say is that it reads “slow.” That would be death for a novel I’m intending to be as commercial as possible without being total crap. I went back and re-read the work and I had to agree with her. Too slow. It needed a bang. Any agent you send a query to is likely to only want to see the first five pages of your novel, so you have to give them something that will make them want to read the rest. So I re-tooled the opening of the first Chapter as something of a flashback–although I’m not in favor of that kind of thing since I prefer a a strictly liner plot. It hints at murder and carnage and a ghost and when I read that to my wife, she said, “Now I would read the rest of that.” I guess that puts me on the right path for the moment!