Wednesday, December 13, 2017

First Chapters

First chapters are my favorite things to write. They burst out of you, helped by that initial surge of excited adrenaline that comes with every new story idea that has enough substance to stick around in the old noggin and not be forgotten with the shopping list. First chapters are where decisions are made: Is there a book here? Can I let this thing run itself out for four or five hundred pages? Does it have a heart beating in its chest? Those answers are never really clear, to be honest. You can only get a better sense of what's going on by writing a first chapter, meeting some characters, and deciding whether or not their lives are interesting enough to follow for upwards of a year. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: the best stories are not created; they are discovered. My job is not to make these people do things, but rather to hang out with them and be there when the shit goes down. And the shit almost ALWAYS goes down. If it doesn't--or if it doesn't seem like it's going to--then I bail after the first chapter. Because if I don't, when that initial excitement fades (and it always does), then I won't be able to care enough to write down what happens... or, if I do, I won't write it down the way it deserves and the story will be flat.