Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been editing our second novel, The Price of Pandemonium. Mostly taking the comments from our beta-readers into consideration, and making minor changes based on this.
One point, in particular, was raised by all of our beta-readers. This meant something needed to be done about it. To make matters difficult, the point concerned the start of the book. In short, the setting of the first chapter seemed ‘unrealistic’. Oh, dear…
Both Sarah and I tried to rectify this with small changes such as threading in the backstory, tweaking the order of events, and adding in extra explanation. None of it worked. Whatever we did, the chapter felt wrong. And, that’s the worst possible way to start a book.
There was only one thing left to do: Re-write the entire beginning. At first, it seemed like a drastic move. But once Sarah and I started talking it through together, the threads of the story came together easily. Like this was how it should have been all along. Unfortunately, it meant cutting three-thousand words from the original chapter and creating an entirely new Chapter One. Different character perspective, different setting, and an altogether different set of events. In other words, major changes.
If any of you have written novels, or done any sort of writing, you’ll know how important that first chapter, or beginning, is. In a novel, the opening line can make or break your book. It’s the hook to bring readers in.
You have one chance to capture the reader, so you must make the most of it.
I agonized over the first chapter for a couple weeks, getting it perfect. Then spent more time linking it with the second chapter. In the end, it’s much better than the original beginning. The drastic changes were worth it. It’s more exciting, flows better, and importantly, it’s realistic.
Finally, with New Zealand getting a handle on Covid-19 for now, I have been back at work for the past two weeks. Initially, I was excited to go back. Lab work is hands-on, and actually pretty fun. And over the past two weeks at work, I have got a lot of lab work done.
But it’s not the same as the pre-Covid days. Even though I got to see my lab mates, it was from a 2-meter distance, with strict social distancing all day. FYI, it’s incredibly tiring to actively distance for 9 hours straight.
I was back at work, but it didn’t resemble the place I left. One in, one out bathrooms, single occupancy hallways, single occupancy elevators, sign-sheets, stringent disinfecting protocols, and no use of shared facilities like microwaves, hot-water jugs, fridges etc.
Yes, the rules relax a little in level 2. For example, I can make tea and heat my lunch. But the other social distancing rules remain firmly in place.
It’s just not the same as it used to be.
That’s a realisation I have been coming to a lot recently. Despite hoping things would go back to normal once the virus was under control, I now understand that there is no normal. Only, a new normal. And who knows what that will be. At the moment, I’m just grateful our country is in a position where people can get back to work, even if it is different to what we’re used to.
Sign-in table with marked social distancing bubbles