I know the logic behind volcano openings and why they’re problematic (they set the expectation that that level of action and excitement will continue; they’re a hard act to follow; they make a promise you can’t possibly fulfil; etc.) but it is the natural place for my story to start: the moment my protagonist’s life changes forever. She makes a mistake and someone dies. It’s not a volcano opening as such; no helicopters explode, but it is fraught with tension and action as they fail to save the patient’s life.
I’m now struggling with Chapter 2 and the natural lull after such an exciting opening. I introduce my characters while my protagonist deals with her mistake and I thought it was okay to give the reader a bit of a breather. But my editor and agents both have issues with this particular chapter (they think my protagonist is too depressed/has no fight and the whole setup is a bit boring). I’m not sure how to fix it.
It may offer some inspiration to hear what you all do with your Chapter 2s:
After you have hooked your reader with your opening, what do you set out to do next?
How do you introduce your characters without boring the reader?
Do you try to keep your beginnings brief and punchy and get on with the story?
How do you gather and maintain momentum when the story hasn’t really started yet?
In short, once you have cranked the engine (and it started with a bang) what tips do you have to stop it stalling right away?