• Michelle

How to Look Beyond the First Chapter

Off and on, I see a lot of clients spend the majority of their time on editing and polishing their first chapter before they get ready to query literary agents. This is because 'hooking' the agent into your book within the first chapter/fifty pages is so often encouraged and focused on. While this is true, I often see chapter two and chapter three and so on crumble and suffer because so much time was spent on chapter one. These chapters often lose their voice and tension, thus losing the reader's interest. The second and third chapters are extremely important when it comes to building tension, plot, characterization, etc. so they need to continue having the voice that was there in the beginning.

So, what can a writer do as to not lose their voice in later chapters?

Professional editing is always a great path to take to make sure your voice is consistent, but in some cases professional editing can cost an arm and a leg. The next best thing? Beta readers! These can be professional beta readers, freelancers, or even family/friends (just make sure they give you their genuine opinion and are not acting biased because you're their family member or friend!). Beta readers can give you quick and easy feedback on your chapters, giving you the opportunity to go back and make the edits needed to keep a consistent voice in your writing.

Another thing that I personally use for my own writing is reading my writing out loud, whether to myself or to a small audience. When I'm interested in what I'm reading, my voice is loud, I use different tones to convey the mood, or I even sound excited. However, if my voice gets softer, slower, or even bored sounding (as I've been told before) it's because I start losing interest in what I'm reading. For me, that's a cue that a section of writing needs improvement.

In short, either get multiple eyes to read your first couple of chapters or read them out loud to a few people to get a sense of if you have a consistent voice or not. This could ultimately help lead you to finding your literary agent!

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