Comment to 'Feedback request - Contemporary Fantasy opening chapters'
  • Ah, Lynn, that's a tough question. It's sort of a generic Yes-ish.

    I don't know if there's any basic rule on this, but my working impression at the moment (only came up with it as a guide 10 minutes ago) is that if you're putting backstory in your opening chapter, no snippet of it should be more than half a sentence; this is to avoid it diverting the flow. As such, I would open with:

    Neil had seen ghosts all his life, but he’d never lived with one before moving to his flat in Milton Keynes; that would teach him to rent property without viewing it first.

    [Note the inversion in the life lesson; at least that's how I have encountered the expression, e.g. My face is a mottle of purple and black; that'll teach me to walk into lampposts.]

    The value of this is that it tells the reader that there is backstory here, and then it allows you to move on. Here's a promise of something that I'll explain later, once you're properly hooked.

    From there, I would move directly to Neil watching the film. It's 8:30, almost done, three glows competing for his attention: around the edge of the curtain, from the TV, and the ghost-light from the bathroom. (Again, only half a sentence hinting at where she resides - possibly as part of why he's such a slob now.)

    And then straight in to the knock on the door.

    Especially in this opening chapter, if it's not directly relevant to the immediate challenge, it can be deferred.

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    • This is fabulous feedback, thanks Rick. I've been a dope not to see how that back story slows the pace and is actually unnecessary - sometimes you just can't see the big issues, which is where this community is so brilliant.

      I'll redraft with that in mind. Many thanks

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