Falling into a Classic Writer’s Trap

A friend and fellow author gave me some good feedback on the first chapter of my mystery.  Among other things, she noted that I was throwing a lot of character’s names at her, so she was having a tough time keeping track of everyone.  I looked through things.  She was right.  I’d fallen into one of the classic writer’s traps for first chapters: too many characters thrown at the reader in too little time.

And yes, I’m the writing instructor who will preach to her students about carefully introducing characters with scenes so that they’ll be memorable.  In short stories, in fact, I do my best to limit the cast to just a few people so that it’s very easy for everyone to keep track of my characters.  So I’ll have to go back and put people in context a bit better even if I find it necessary to leave them in.  If necessary, I’ll nudge the conversation in slightly different directions.  But I’m also moving forward into Chapter 2.  After all, Chapter 1 will need a re-edit after I’ve gone all the way through my mystery, so there’s no point in sewing things up too tightly.

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