May’s Round Robin is an excellent topic suggested by Skye: Has so much emphasis been placed by readers and writers groups, publishers, reviewers, etc. on authors to have a spectacular opening page/chapter that the rest of the story gets left behind? What are your thoughts and experiences with this?
The short answer to this? Yes. The long answer?
First Three Chapters
Recently, I’ve been reading a number of books that suffer from this phenomenon. Agents/publishers, when they ask to see a portion of the book, frequently ask for the first three chapters. At least they used to do that. So, the author edits and revises those chapters to death, polishing it until they can see their reflection in them, completely ignoring the rest of the book… Sometimes, it only takes a chapter for the story to fall apart. Usually, though, the first three chapters keep me enthralled then the story goes to hell in a handbasket faster than an egg fries on Mars.
Most often, the story begins in tight POV (point of view, for non-authors) of the hero/heroine (or alternates between the two, but still tight third). A few chapters out, a POV will sneak into one paragraph, even one sentence, before the author wrestles the story back into line. However, once the battlement has been breached, the horde of POVs waiting to invade work at that crack. At first, they trickle through one at a time. Within a few more chapters, everyone’s POVs, and their dog’s, too–just for good measure, are running amok in a POV free-for-all designed to drive someone like me, who prefers tight, third person POV with the max of two, bonkers.
If the books were tangible instead of electronic, my walls would be dented. Since they aren’t, I must control myself, or my iPad would be pulverized by now from me throwing it across the room. Fortunately, deleting is only a click away.
Once the POV goes, the typos and grammatical errors multiply like horny bunnies. (Yes, I’m purposefully mixing my metaphors and similes here. Why? Because it amuses me. :D) I don’t know if that’s more painful than the marauding POVs. The editor in me is OCD and itches to fix it all, but I refrain.
I recently read a book with this very phenomenon. Within the first three chapters out, the POVs congregated and took over the story, hacking and slashing like Attila the Hun and his band of merry men. I couldn’t finish the book. When that happens, I try to wipe the memories of those books from my mind. It’s less painful that way.
What do you think? Does this drive you as crazy as it does me? Or are you one of those people who doesn’t care and ignores all of that?
Be sure to stop by these blogs to see what everyone else thinks: