Back to Front: Writing Chapter 1 after ‘The End’

I always have very mixed feelings about reaching The End of writing a novel. These include gladness, sadness, a sense of achievement, gloom at the editing that still needs to be done, a pointless pondering of the manuscript’s fate as a potential book and excitement that I can move onto the next novel.

The thing is, The End isn’t the end. I’ve penned new opening chapters for all of my five Cornish Detective novels. This makes lots of sense, in that it enables one to set the mood for what’s to come, lacing the narrative with subtle threads that foreshadow events.

We all need to start a story somewhere, but as characters do things we hadn’t anticipated at the beginning new themes may emerge, which a rewrite of Chapter 1 can hint at; readers are sensitive to such vague allusions.

As the first five pages are reckoned to be crucial to the success of a manuscript in getting off the slush pile, an attention-grabbing Chapter 1 is vital. Noah Lukeman goes so far as to suggest that it’s the first five sentences that determine the fate of a submission by an unknown author.

Have any of you tried this way of writing Chapter 1? It’s not quite putting the cart before the horse—more like replacing the old horse with a fresh stallion! 

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