We’ve all been told how critical the first chapter is…
My dilemma comes from a first chapter that is “bad” for a reason.
I have a YA/Teen Fiction novel with a very short Chapter 1 (only 891 words) that I’m taking a gamble on.
Nothing much happens in the chapter (no dialogue between characters, no major action) and it’s very much inside the head of the main character… But it sets up the whole narrative concept and “voice” of the story - that the MC buys a marbled notebook, which she is currently writing in, so the entire story will be told in a journal style (fluctuating between past and present tense depending on which part of her day she is writing about, “breaking the fourth wall” when she writes asides to her best friend who she lets read the journal, etc.)
Since the MC is a 16 year old, and she isn’t writing for a graded assignment, the storytelling isn’t always going to be superb (she shouldn’t be writing like James Joyce or George Eliot at her age) and I really wanted her first entry to feel a bit scattered, so I can hopefully show growth in her personality and her writing through the later entries.
My question is -
Should I scrap this opening, because I know it might not hook readers, and try to begin the story another way?
Or is it better to keep it because it does serve a purpose to the larger arc and themes of the novel?
Is 891 words too many words to gamble with?