Richard says that he ends up throwing away his first chapter before he sends any book in to his publisher. He doesn’t plan to do that exactly; it just happens to do the trick.
When I heard him talking about this, I knew immediately what he meant. I tend to tell myself the story in chapter one, anyway. I get to know the characters as they fill out; I plant things that I think I might need later; I describe the setting; in short, I fool around with intent.
So the next time I had a book finished enough to send to Candlewick, I threw out the first chapter and looked at it again. What an improvement!
I lean toward the draconic, anyway, so I love just tossing out 16-20 pages. Sure, things needed to be added and stuff in general smoothed out, but w/out the original chapter, the book started with a bang. And a rather mysterious bang. Who are these people, and why are they where they are?
Those questions got answered little by little rather than all once once in a very static and embarrassingly lumpy first chapter. Interestingly enough, the new first chapter was heavy on dialogue and moved right along while the original opening chapter was light on dialogue and heavy-on-the-page.