I have a huge chunk of my manuscript in passable shape starting with chapter two. I'm probably about 10-15K words short of finishing the official draft, but once I write and work in a brand new subplot, I'll be pretty close. I keep getting hung up. You see, I want a strong start. I go through phases where I feel like I can't move forward until my first chapter meets my expectations. Unfortunately, I'm in one of these phases right now. And pathetic as this is, I am currently working on my eighth version of chapter one.

I don't mean the eighth draft; I mean the eighth completely different hook/concept/location/situation. (I can't even say how many hours I've put in. I know that version six alone was at least 65 hours.) I've been vaguely happy with a few of these versions but I always change my mind. I decide the tone is wrong, my main character isn't likeable enough, there isn't enough tension, it's the wrong place to start, or whatever!

What I want to write:

1. A first sentence/paragraph/page/chapter hook that makes people go, "Ooooh! What's going on here? I must read more of this intriguing work!"

2. A situation that is mysterious or shocking enough to keep readers wondering, but not so mysterious/shocking that they lose interest/get lost.

3. My main character in a scene with tension where he has to have a goal and make decisions.

4. My main character being likeable enough as he tries to meet his goal/make decisions that readers root for him.

I don't think it should be this hard to accomplish these things. But it really, really is.

I think it's time I tried moving forward again. I need to figure out how to make myself do that.