When I was a kid, I refused to read first chapters. They were boring, nothing happened, and usually the story didn’t really get started until Chapter Two anyway. This changed when I read Matilda. The first line grabbed me by the eyeballs and didn’t let go. After that I started reading books from the beginning, or at least giving the beginning a chance before skipping to the good stuff.
It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful. – The most excellent first sentence from Roald Dahl’s, Matilda.
Now that I’m a writer, I do my best to start my books at Chapter Two. It’s hard because there are so many things I want to tell the reader about my characters, and the setting, and all the things that have happened so far. In fact, usually I start my first drafts way too early and have to cut off a huge chunk of the front to make sure I’m starting in the right place. (This happened with Alice Jones: The Ghost Light. The story you’ll read starts at the first draft’s Chapter Four!) But it’s worth the extra work.
So take a look at your first chapter. Is it really the start of your story? Or is it all just backstory? If you start reading your book from Chapter Two, are you really missing anything? If not, maybe it’s time to cut Chapter One and start from where the story gets good.
The Ghost Light is the second mystery in the Alice Jones Series. Alice, Della and Kevin are back, this time trying to solve the mysterious goings-on at the old Beryl Theatre. As they sleuth through backstage passages and cobwebbed storage rooms, Alice is determined to prove a living culprit is to blame-there are no such things as ghosts, right?