re: What If the Best Stuff Is In the Middle of My Story?

in Submissions by

Dear Editor…

When a publisher requests a query letter, synopsis, and two sample chapters, is it okay to send the first chapter and a chapter from elsewhere in the book instead of chapter two in order to show something with more excitement or adventure than the second chapter might show?

Thanks,
Rosi

Dear Rosi…

Don’t pull a chapter out of the middle of your story. Agents will be suspicious. They’ll assume that the beginning of the book isn’t interesting enough for you to show off. In their minds, your tactic is as good as admitting that yourself. If you can’t hook your readers with the first chapters of the book, they will never reach the middle. The same with agents. They want opening chapters that hook them so tightly they rush to ask for the full manuscript. Your concern that your opening chapters aren’t as strong as your middle ones is your red flag to go back and make those opening chapters great.

Happy writing!
The Editor

4 Comments

  1. Or it could be that the writer started the book in the wrong place. Maybe the story really starts half way in the current version of the book. This happens all the time and is fairly easy to fix once you realize the problem.

  2. I have to agree with Deborah. You don’t sound confident about your opening hook, so the little voice in your head must be telling you to go back and make it wonderful 🙂 You won’t regret it.

  3. Let me give you a great example. Jim Dale reads the Harry Potter CDs and I’ve been listening as I clean closets.
    The Socceror’s Stone has a long 1st and 2nd chapter that I absolutely didn’t remember from either the book (which I’ve read twice at least) and certainly not from the movie. Then over and over, I heard scenes and conversations that made the action drag.
    Oh they were there in the original versions, but they really didn’t serve either the plot or action or reader well at all.
    Just listen for 3-4 chapters and you’ll hear the difference between what you’ve seen in the movies and what you hear.
    Kate Lacy

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