The rules people play by in a critique group or editing office their honest assessment about what will help you reach a broader audience – but take everything in moderation. You can have an adverb or a dialog tag, it won’t be the end of the world, it’s just a smoother story – a better story, and easier to read by more people – to read without those things.
See why you should join a critique group, HERE
Don’t worry about the info dumps in chapter 1, get on to chapters 2, 3, etc., and then you’ll see where that stuff can come in naturally – or maybe not at all.
Learn about correcting info dumps HERE
Then, when you’re finished, address the early chapters again, because you’ll have decided on a voice for the whole story. Often in chapter 1 we haven’t found the story’s voice yet.
In my story Poggibonsi, Sam is the favorite character (the MC’s assistant). She’s witty, irreverent, and often hilariously outrageous. She appears in chapter 1 but almost after half the chapter has gone by.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but…
I’m probably going to open with her, let her hook the audience, and then have the stuff that happened before her appearance (the MC interacting with his wife and young daughter) come around the next morning.
Minor change overall, big improvement for the book.
Everybody loves Sam, why not serve her up first? Because it didn’t occur to me until I was 30 chapters in, that’s why.
When I finally noticed people kept saying how much they loved her.
Okay, I can take a hint. Eventually. When you have a star, put the star up front. Duh. But it’s even more duh-ish to stick stubbornly to your guns when the fans are telling you what they want.
They’re fans. They buy books. Give them what they want.
And by the time you’re 30 chapters in, the voice is THERE. Friends will spot it. So, maybe, will you. It’s the words and style and attitude you take when you’ve finally relaxed enough to be yourself. That doesn’t mean burping at the dinner table, it means telling a good story in a compelling manner because you are confident. That’s a great place to be as a writer and a great story to read as a reader.
“But I’m not confident!”
Maybe that’s your voice.
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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi” – yeah, we know. We’re trying to convince him to change that title – check out his other works here http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1425128559&sr=1-1 and check back often for interesting stuff.