At our last critique, I read the start of a new book. I felt there was a problem with the start but wasn't sure what it was. After hearing the comments, I thought about what they had said. They were right and wrong. What I'd done was load the beginning with too many people and too many problems they faces. They made some good suggestions for cuts in the opening. What they really did was make me think about the following questions. Did I begin in the right place? Was there too much back story in the first seven pages? What about characters? Had I allowed the reader to get a feeling for the character through whose eyes the scene will unfold?
The answer to some of these questions was a definite yes. Since this is an ensemble story with eight characters sharing the viewpoint, I had to find a way to let the reader be with each character during their part of the narrative. It's not that I began in the wrong place or with the wrong character. Jamming was what I'd done and I'd made the problems so dire that the characters would have to run off in five or more directions and nothing would be accomplished except a mess. Part of this is that I have lived with these characters and the developing situations through three prior books. This is the last one and will complete the cycle.
I've taken the opening apart and pulled what I think should be known in the beginning and reorganized the story. I'll post the new first few paragraphs tomorrow and hopefully those who heard the first will comment on what I've done. If not at next critique group, I'll read it again.