Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

I have vanquished the inner demon preventing me from writing an awesome first chapter! (…that’s an awkward, weird title haha)


ImageSo a few weeks ago I posted about the battle of writing my first chapter for my YA novel Hooligans in Shining Armour, set in present-day Belfast. There have been three completely different start points so far and numerous drafts of each. At the time, I was super excited because I thought I’d nailed that first chapter. Well…. turned out I didn’t lol. Writing first chapters is such an art. So I’ve spent the past week writing a new first chapter. After much crafting and re-writing and getting feedback from my most trusted critique partners…. I…. AM…. 99.9% SURE… I…. actually have nailed it this time!!! I guess there’s still that .1% chance that I’m not…

Image(side note: I spent waaaay too long looking at Monty Python gifs)

Words cannot express my joy. But I may go do this in my condo elevator right now.

ImageAnyway, if you want to check out the new material for Hooligans in Shining Armour, click here! Let me know what you think.

How do you know when you’re done with your novel, like really done?Β 

23 thoughts on “I have vanquished the inner demon preventing me from writing an awesome first chapter! (…that’s an awkward, weird title haha)

  1. cmschesser1832

    THOSE GIFS. My gosh, we are peas in a pod. Hooray for vanquishing the demons!!! (Did you use the Holy Hand Grenade?) Anyway, go you go you go you go you!!! You can do it, Sarah! We believe in you! πŸ˜€


  2. christineplouvier

    The writing is done when the last plot hole closes, wherever that happens in the story (I’m a non-linear writer). The editing is done when, on the latest trip through the book, I can find only a dozen punctuation errors (which means there are probably about six missed mistakes that won’t be apparent until it’s in print).


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Yes!!! Thanks πŸ™‚ It’s good to hear it’s grabs your attention. All those trials and tribulations leading up to it were worth it then! Happy writing and thanks for reading


  3. Wesley Morrison

    For me, the writing is never actually done. I just finally reach a point where I know I can’t do anything more with it, at least not without letting the book sit in a drawer for a couple of years, and it’s time to send it out into the world.

    LOVE the Monty Python gifs, by the way! Totally started my day off right!


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Yes!!! Glad to help you start your friday right! For me, I realized I just got this sense of peace that told me like, Sarah, you’re seconds away from being done. Best wishes with your writing and thanks for stopping by!


  4. Rae Venn

    I read your first chapter. I loved it! It could use some editing, sure, but you should focus on writing the rest before worrying over editing it. I thought it was really great! Quick question though: is that really what police officers would do if someone’s mom had died? Also, how do you pronounce Nevaeh? (so bad at name pronunciations!)
    I really liked it, though! It enticed me to read on. The whole “You’re pretty” thing was a bit of a let down, though, I mean, all that suspense and that’s all it says? But I’m sure it would be pretty exciting for a girl that age if her crush said that, sooo…
    It was awesome, seriously!
    Good luck!

    In reply to your question, I don’t think I’ll ever truly be done. I think that if I ever “finish” it will more be that I got a publishing deal and the editors signed off and said it was done. I think that even if (when???) I’m published, I’ll keep wanting to edit the darn book! Ugh…


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Thanks for reading my chapter! Glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚ It’s good to know all that hard work paid off. Nevaeh is heaven spelled backward and pronounced Ne-vey-ah. I’ll have to ponder the police thing. Thanks for pointing it out! I’m actually about to go get then entire novel printed and bound so I can do a final edit. I find it helps my brain pick up on things πŸ˜›

      I know what you mean about never feeling done. New little bits of dialogue or tiny details are always popping into my head. Landing a publishing deal and getting that final editor send off would be amazing, but for right now I’ll settle for the sense of like inner peace I have that tells me that, besides some edits, Hooligans is almost complete after months of research, near twenty readers (5 in Belfast!!!), and so, so many massive plot and structure and first chapter changes.

      Anyway, thanks for all your thoughtful comments and taking the time to read my stuff. Happy editing and I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog! We’re in this together πŸ˜€


  5. Erica Judd

    Fantastic first chapter! Can’t wait to read more. πŸ™‚
    Also – Monty Python, heck yeah! I have a rabbit that’s a bit like that, haha.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Thanks for reading the chapter. Glad you enjoyed it and the Monty Python gifs πŸ™‚ Also, I’m scared of your rabbit, though perhaps you could use it to vanquish your own writer’s block demons πŸ˜› Happy writing!


  6. Sierra

    I read it, too. Man, does this sound like a book that’ll sink its hooks into you! You have all the hardest parts down, honestly; it’s just a matter of making it flow a liiiiiittle bit more naturally (at least in Fiona’s chapter; I think Danny’s was much better). Love the names Zion and Neveah, by the way. ;]

    For me, I know I’m done writing when I’ve edited it for the ten millionth time and I think of this: “There comes a point when you stop making it better and only make it different.” That’s when I know, I’m only making it different, not any better. It must be done. Then I give it a final read-through, just to make sure I can live with the letters on the page, and submit it like that.


  7. Anna E

    1. I’m going to Belfast this summer so it made me super excited to read that. 2. I want a copy when it’s all finished. 3. This looks like it’s going to be a great YA book my students would LOVE. 4. I appreciate the Monty Python more than you know. Very few of my friends can converse in MP quotes with me. πŸ™‚


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      1. That’s so cool!! Belfast is lovely and NOrthern Ireland is absolutely beautiful. Hope you get to travel around a bit! Take some pics for me! What will you be doing there????? Would love to hear about what you do there. I’m hoping to get back within the next year. 2. haha okay! I’m getting soooo close now lol. 3. I am hoping so!! What do you teach? 4. I agree, though I’m fortunate enough to have friends that can do it with me πŸ˜› Ah crap I wish I could think of a comment now but I caaaaan’t. RUN AWAY!!!!

      Pleasure to meet you!


      1. Anna E

        1. I’m actually going on a mission trip. We will be doing vacation Bible school during the day and sports camps in the evening. I played field hockey for 10 years so I am UBER excited! I will definitely be taking pictures. No worries. 2. Press on dear friend! 3. This year I have 11th grade college prep and honors. 4. Glad to have another friend who can quote along with me! πŸ™‚ Always look on the bright side of life.


      1. sjoycarlson Post author

        1. Ooo exciting. I went on a mission trip as well, but it was more a learning trip than actual mission trip. Protestant or Catholic, if you don’t mind my asking? As I’m sure you’re aware, that matters there. When you going? Love to hear about your experience! 2. will do! 3. In the US I work in the schools as well, love ellow educators. 4. I shall have to use more MP memes lol. :):)


  8. Pingback: Tackling those overwhelming developmental edits | Sarah J. Carlson

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