I kept running back Sandra Bond's points in my mind and started brainstorming about possible new ways to enter the story line ... better ways to enter the story line. Inspiration hit at about 1:45 a.m. this morning, and I rolled out of bed with possible lines running through my head. I went to bed at 4:50 with a completely new first chapter completed. It is MILES away from my original in tone and approach. The original story line didn't change one bit, but fleshing out the main character and ramping up the tension did.
So, thank you Sandra Bond for kicking me in the butt and making me dig deeper. Jeff Kleinman tried to do the same thing and I brushed off the advice. Bullheaded, you know. Sure MY way was the best way. It wasn't, and the new chapter shows that. It is THAT much better.
Oh, about the plot line? I'm being very coy on purpose. The most positive point anyone has made is that my premise ... my story line ... is very good. I have Googled to see if there is a similar plot line, and I haven't found any matches. Not to say that it's an absolute original idea, but it doesn't seem to follow an established work. That's good.
Now I am turning my attention to my second chapter and seeing what inspiration will bring. I think it's solid, but maybe a little rambling. I try to introduce a few characters who will show up later in the novel ... and introduce my SECOND main protagonist ... and give adequate backstory so the reader will understand my second main character better. (Well, knowing him better might be misleading. The second chapter is seen through his eyes as he examines some of the main people who have hurt him in his life. But maybe seeing this through his eyes distorts reality a bit. The first character trait when I did a character profile on this guy is "classic victim" because he projects the reason for all his failures onto someone else.) Anyway, the second chapter needs to be tighter, so I await new inspiration. We'll see if 1:45 a.m. tomorrow brings anything of substance.