Here’s the skinny, kids. It’s not hard to write a truly wonderful book. You’ve got an idea, you’ve got interesting characters, you’ve got detailed villains, and you’ve got a unique plot. All the ingredients are there. All you need is to combine them in a wonderfully-seasoned stew.
You’ve written a first chapter, certainly. And a second chapter. Perhaps you’ve gone as far as three. Most writers get to four, sometimes even five. Many write all the way until ‘The End’, however many chapters it takes.
But what do we know about chapters? We know that the first couple are the ‘most important’. If you don’t hook a reader in the first fifty pages (however many chapters that might be for you) you might as well have published the 1901 Chinese Phonebook for all the readers you’re going to get.
Those first chapters are your sell. They’re your demo reel. They’re your hook.
So many writers spend months crafting the perfect sentences. Honing the dialogue until it would shave a linguistics professor’s beard to baby-smooth skin. Creating unforgettable plot twists, action beats, and introducing characters you’ll know like family. These writers know you’ve gotta hook ‘em when they’re young, and keep ‘em coming back.
And then they finish the book.
And here’s the secret: don’t stop.
Imagine EVERY chapter is the first chapter. Write each chapter as though it were the ONLY chapter your reader is going to see. Forget for a moment that they’ll be lost in the plot, or they won’t know the characters. Even not knowing a damned thing about your story, make the dialogue sharp enough to cut their imaginations to the quick. Craft your sentences so well that Shakespeare (or Marlowe, or Bacon, or De Vere… pick your belief) would applaud you.
Make EVERY chapter your pitch chapter. Make EVERY chapter your one chance to hook a reader, hook an editor, hook a publisher. If you can’t back EVERY chapter you’ve ever written as the best work you’ve ever done…
…why do you think you’re done?