Since a bunch of you counted your suddenlys yesterday, I was reminded of a nice tool available online. It's called Wordle. You paste your manuscript into this program and it gives you a nice list of all the words you use and how many times you use them. It also gives you a really nice pictorial diagram that emphasizes your most used words. Not only is it pretty, but it's quite useful. When I put in my novel, the top three words I used were the names of the three main characters in my book in the order that I would have predicted, which was nice to know. I also saw that some other words I used a lot were the other characters' names, the word "hands" came up, the word "back" came up -- which is appropriate since the book explores returning to the past, and the word "something" came up, which let me know that I had some imprecise language. Thankfully, there weren't too many of those and I was able to change a bunch of them. So go get your Wordle on!
On the publishing front, I have been working on revising the first chapter of my novel. Here is the dilemma I face. I'd love to get your opinions on it.
My book is about a man, Bao Phamduong, who ran away from his hometown of Ra-nong, Thailand to escape from his abusive brother, Daeng. Twenty years later, Daeng is killed and Bao goes back to Ra-nong to try and reunite with the family he left behind. His brings his wife and son, both of whom have their own histories and conflicts.
(I tell the story through alternating past and present chapters. I use a third person point of view where I allow myself to go into the heads of Bao, his wife, and his son.)
I originally started the story from the moment when Bao got the news that his brother was dead. It was sort of boring -- phone call, internal struggle. Then, one night I wrote a chapter in which Daeng's killing is actually shown. It gives an initial glimpse of the antagonist of the story right before he dies. It's sort of his one chance to defend himself for the reader. Here's my problem. I've let about twelve people read most or all of the book, and all of those people say to keep the first chapter the way it is. I've let about ten people read just the first few pages, and some of those people say the first chapter is misleading because it seems to be about Daeng rather than Bao, and because it sets up a tone that this book will be violent and graphic, which it isn't. So, while I like the book as a whole the way it is, I'm worried that the first chapter will turn off too many readers, including agents who request small partials, such as the first five pages. Does anyone have any thoughts on what you would do in this situation?