Riding Herd‘s first chapter is killin’ me. I’ve never done a series before, so I’m having trouble knowing how much info from Give the Lady a Ride needs to go in to Riding Herd to orient my readers to the setting and backstory. I know that I don’t have to totally rehash Ride, and there isn’t that much that needs to come in to the new manuscript. But what I do need from the first novel is giving me problems.
First bit of really good advice I got from my one of critique partners is to treat the first novel as backstory. Give the Lady a Ride is backstory and should be dribbled in like that of any other novel. I don’t know why this didn’t dawn on me to begin with.
Second tidbit of advice was the reminder that backstory is best delivered in dialogue, especially if you need large chunks of it. I don’t really need a large chunk, but even the little bit I need is best presented in dialogue. And, I’m pretty good at writing dialogue (huff on nails, polish on shoulder), so I think I nailed that part after it was pointed out to me.
Now, we come to the third word of advice: even though the first chapter primarily orients the reader to the setting, reintroduces some characters, and introduces another, I still have to give the POV character a goal and present the basic conflict of the story. Or at least present the conflict better than I did.
And therein lies the rub. My best presentation of the conflict was in the first version of Chapter One, and that scene got scrapped along with the rest of the first version of Chapter One. So, my question to myself is: Do I salvage the scene from the scrapped version–and if so, how?–or do I figure out something entirely different?
Since I still have roughly 30K words left to write to finish the manuscript, I shouldn’t be concerned with this right now. But what I shouldn’t do and what I do are frequently two different things. It’s on my mind. What I hope is that while it simmers in the background, I can both finish the manuscript and discover a killer way to open the novel.
I have till the end of May. No sweat.