When You Feel Stuck: Revising a Novel

I’ve reached the point in revising my novel where I’m overwhelmed and again feeling that the task is impossible. What brought me to this point, you ask? Chapter One.

Going back over my first chapter, I realized I had a ton of information that wasn’t needed right away. But how could I jump right into the action with little backstory and no previous characterization or character introductions? The answer:

I don’t know.

I have too many important characters to just jump right into it. The reader would be lost. But if I don’t have something intriguing in the first few sentences, how can I expect my reader to keep reading? How did I handle this?

I didn’t.

I rewrote the beginning of chapter one with the needed information and decided to go back to it later. I have a goal to get this whole thing in better shape in the next two months, but I won’t be able to meet that goal if I spend all my time on the first chapter.

When I go back to Chapter One, I imagine I’ll do some planting of intriguing bits that will help the reader get interested. Or maybe I’ll rewrite the whole thing and jump into the action and just explain things as I go. But that’s a topic for another time.

If you’re working on a novel right now and feel stuck, my advice is don’t give up! Keep writing! If something isn’t working, move on. Don’t get stuck on the details in an early draft. Write what’s needed, even if you know you’ll rewrite it later, and move to something else. Who knows, if you stress the little things now, you may revise something later that makes the details you stressed over insignificant.

Just keep writing.



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