I’m still revising my pirate book. What a surprise. A friend is very kindly reading it for me. Be nice to your friends who read your stuff! And he suggested I had problems with my first chapter.
My first reaction, which is pretty common among people who write stuff, was, “How can this guy tell me there’s something wrong with my writing!? How dare he!?” I did have the wit to say this not-out-loud. I know myself well enough to know that is ALWAYS my initial reaction. Once the adrenaline stopped flowing, I thanked my lucky stars he’d taken the time to read the thing, re-read his notes, rolled my sleeves up and got to work.
And, of course, what he told me, is precisely what I tell my clients. Thank God for people who give notes!
I had too much backstory in Chapter 1. Check. Gone.
I spent too much time repeating the basic idea that Matt is sad because his father was not around. SAY IT ONCE AND MOVE ON! If there were a pair of “Don’t Repeat” glasses that worked, I would sell them for a ton of money and retire. I said more or less the same thing several times. Before my buddy read it, I thought each bit was unique and unable to be cut. After I got his notes, it instantly changed the way I looked at the chapter, and I saw all the things that I thought were unique were really mostly more or less the same thing said a slightly different way.
So out they went.
The right note will flow through the entire work, coloring the way you see it and affecting every single page… even if the note was just one sentence.