Decanting a novel

So I’ve been a bit snarky about my manuscript this week. The novel is really good, but the beginning never feels right to me. I couldn’t figure out why that was, and finally some readers comments seemed to wake me up. My book starts off a little heavy, but after a few chapters it becomes lighter and hard to put down.  Because I’m a fan of analogies I thought this is similar to wine. Sometimes a wine is great straight from the bottle, but other times, wine needs to be decanted. By doing so, the liquid comes into contact with oxygen when can often cause wines to lose some of the abrasive qualities that they might have.

My novel truly sings once it has been decanted. At first sip, it tastes decent, but the true potential of it is marred by all this excess language. It’s trying too hard to impress. However, if you keep reading, the book opens up, and by chapter 4 it is not just palatable but delicious (at least according to the readers I have.)

So now my goal is find a way to bring the qualities of the decanted portion of the novel, to the front, to save the reader the hassle of the whole decanting process. To do this, I’ve decided to do another full reading. However, unlike all the other times, I won’t be reading with a pen in hand to make edits. Instead I will read it as a reader, and see what makes the book so light and easy after chapter 4. Certainly the first few chapters are encumbered by having to introduce several characters as well as the general premise of the novel, but I can tell there is something more to it than that.

I’ll report back with more specific findings as they occur to me.

To my fellow authors, I ask you, does your novel need to be decanted?


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