While at the Phoenix Comicon this weekend, I learned a really good piece of writing advice.
You know how you get an idea for a story and you start researching and you keep researching and you do all this research and you totally geek out on the research? And then you start writing, and you’re compelled to include every shred of detail you learned while researching? You could fill pages and pages with the minutia of clock making in Victorian England. Or the migratory patterns of African swallows. Or infantry movements during World War I.
But bogging down your book with all of that detail would be B-A-D bad. Not to mention B-O-R-I-N-G boring.
Because, while research lends credibility and veracity to our work, too much detail slows down your narrative and causes the reader to get impatient with the story.
Leanna Renee Hieber, Sam Sykes and Aprilynne Pike all agreed a good strategy for wanting to use all of that research is to go ahead and write a first chapter full of all of the details you love. Knock yourself out. Indulge. Get it all on the page.
Then start the story with your second chapter.
(Aprilynne says she writes two chapters for herself before starting the book with the third chapter.)
When you revise, cut the first chapter (or first two chapters), knowing that nothing you cut has to ever really be thrown away. Save all that research and detail and description for use at a later time or in another book or to frame on the wall because you love it so much.
As someone who often struggles with first chapters, that was a real lightbulb moment for me. I hope you found it helpful as well.