But, but… I thought I was supposed to make it worse and worse and worse. Not that I want to, in fact I’m happy to leave the poor guy as he is. Plus, yay! No revision.
Yes, you must continually up the conflict, up the problems, deepen the pit… but not do all of that in the first three pages. The poor reader’s head would explode.
You will, by end of chapter one, make things worse for him. Either an old problem gets worse or a new problem appears. Or a combo therein. You can also SOLVE an old problem then double-up on a new WORSE problem after that.
So, we open where he’s in a bad state emotionally, financially and physically, but 1) he has his skates which 2) allow him to get a job. Yes, taking his skates away will then make it worse (would be a nice ending to CH 1) but only if IT MAKES SENSE. You can also let him KEEP the skates if, in so doing, he gets into a worse mess (like, he now has to work for the bad guys who threaten to kill him…which wouldn’t have happened if he doesn’t have skates. Follow?)
But if you want to take away his skates and his means of employment, then, yes, he’s in a bad way and now has a problem (conflict) to solve in order to survive. He has to get some other kind of job that doesn’t require skates. Or he has to become a criminal and steal. Or he has to marry a rich old woman. 😉 Or… whatever it is and however you continue to structure it, it has to make sense to his overall GMC. What’s his END GOAL? What’s his HAPPY PLACE at the end of the story? That’s your bulls-eye, though you (the MC) may well take a very circuitous route in getting there.
Keep “out of the frying pan, into the fire” in mind.
Very often, the opening first scene GOAL isn’t the MC’s overall goal. Very often, the MC doesn’t even KNOW his overall goal (or more likely, what he believes is his overall goal isn’t the true goal at all). Take Dorothy and Toto and Auntie Em. Dorothy’s OPENING goal was to get out of her chores at home and be more independent. But her true goal of the book was to GET HOME. In between her feeding the pigs in the opening of WIZARD OF OZ and, at the end, her waking up in her bed at home (kind of bogus ending, IMHO), she had all sorts of CRAP thrown at her, creating new problems and new goals. But pretty much, once she was hijacked by the tornado and deposited in Oz, her main overarching goal was GET HOME. BUT she had to flail through menacing trees and sleepy poppies and a bitchy witch AND those freakin’ nasty flying monkeys to even GET to the point of being able to GET HOME (because idiot Glinda the Good Witch had a brain fart and forgot to TELL Dorothy she had the ability all along because of the ruby slippers. Duh.)
Most of any well-crafted commercial genre fiction plot is one step forward, two steps back, one step forward, two steps back…
Clear as mud?
//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//