Out of the ten gazillion editing realizations I've made, deciding to rewrite the first chapter was probably one of the hardest to accept. You'd like to think after a long time with a story that you've been able to get the beginning right, but that isn't always the case. And if the first chapter isn't right, then it can be pretty hard to get people to keep reading.
It's a difficult decision because honestly, I really like the beginning of my book. I can breeze through the first five chapters like it's someone else's book and I'm just dying to know what happens next. Chapter 2 is my absolute favorite and I only have a few minor tweaks in my editing to-do list for that chapter. But I can't start the book with the second chapter. No one would know what the hell was going on. I need the first chapter to get the characters and situation established so the story can actually begin.
It's not all horrible, though. If I broke down the chapter, it really has four parts. The first two parts are the ones that need a massive overhaul, the third one just needs a little tweaking, and the fourth one doesn't really need any changes. So I really only have to rewrite half of the chapter.
On the other hand, there is a lot to change. I've never really been ok with my first line, and I'm sure you all know how important that is. So that has to go. I feel like the first scene may not make sense to some people, so I want to make sure that's clearer. There's also a lot of exposition that I think I could cut down. With the second scene, I'm actually excited about the change because I'm removing an unnecessary character and replacing her with someone whose name actually comes up again in the story. So I think it will make a lot more sense.
I also think I need to make my narrator a bit more sympathetic. Ugh. I kinda don't want to. Yeah, he's not everyone's cup of tea, and I'm ok with that. But I do actually want the people who decide to read this book to keep reading. If they're turned off by the main character right away then that's probably not going to happen. Luckily I do see some space in the third scene to sneak in some sympathy, and some of the cuts I'll be making from the first two scenes should help out with that as well.
So on my giant editing to-do list, rewriting Chapter 1 is right there at the top. I know I probably won't get it all done at once. That first scene rewrite is going to be tough. The rest will be easier since I already know how to fix it. I guess the next step is to stop thinking about it and just actually do it. That's just another thing I'm trying to work on.