“Wait a second. You're writing a story about a frustrated writer who is writing the same story?”
“I guess. Whadya think?”
“I don't know, Henry. Seems a bit too avant-garde for you.”
“But it's never been done before, right?” Henry looks around his editor's crowded office before landing back on James' face. James looks like an accountant, down to the John Lennon glasses and sport coat with leather patches on the elbows.
“Maybe not, but probably for a reason.” Well, he wasn't actually Henry's editor. That would imply Henry had completed a manuscript, something that James could edit. Something for which Henry could pay James. Two things that hadn't taken place. Yet.
“So he cheated on her?” James asks, pushing his glasses up his nose.
“Maybe.” Henry stands on the other side of the desk, fidgeting. “I'm not sure yet.”
“I don't know, Henry. I mean where are you going with this character? Is he more than a frustrated writer? As a reader, why should I care?”
“You don't care about his relationship with Carol?”
“A little, but is that the whole story?” James hands the loose sheets of paper over the desk and back to his friend. In all seriousness, that is the only reason James gave Henry free writing advice. His clients paid him one-twenty an hour for these services.
“You don't like the self-referential angle?”
“Again, it's got to be more than that. You're not a gimmick writer. Give me something original.”
“I thought I was,” Henry replies softly. He looks around at the full book shelves and framed awards adorning the small office. His gaze lands back on James and Henry notices his hair is slicked back as if with hair gel. Who uses hair gel anymore? Henry wonders.
“And figure out if you're writing in the present or past tense.”
“Yeah, I know. I think I'm going with present.”
“And you're sticking with third person? Because the story seems to be from the main character's perspective so you could go first person if you want.”
“I'll think about it.”
“Good, but now I've got to get back to work,” James declares.
Henry looks at the floor, letting the papers in his hand dangle by his side.
“Make the first paragraph grab my attention. Make me care,” James advises. Henry considers if maybe James looks more like a college professor than an accountant. He nods and turns to the door.
“Oh, and change his name to something like Jake. Charlie is too wimpy for this character.”
Praise for Chapter One
Since I semi-retired from medicine in 2016, I read between 250 and 300 books a year. Occasionally spiritual, less often technical, mostly novels. I can tell you Chris Lemme’s Chapter One is one terrific novel. Innovative and tantalizing. Ten to twelve plots spring up as a first chapter is re-written, and I want to know the end of every single one.
Add a Review
What Did You Think of Chapter One?