I'm six months deep into working on my novel, Residual Effects. I know; shut up about it and go finish it. Anyway, I wrote it in a month (NaNoWriMo). Set it aside for a month. Following the holidays, I apprehensively took a look at it. And, boy was the beginning dreadful.
Not only did make absolutely make no sense, but it was also just filled with static dialogue that demonstrated nothing about the characters who were talking and simply bored me to death. And I wrote it. So, I rewrote it immediately.
As the days went on, I continued editing/rewriting my manuscript. Then I went back to the new beginning I wrote. It was pure shit. No, exaggeration. There was a disturbing bowel movement right on the page.
What was the problem this time? Well, I added some actual personality and life to the characters talking. So, that's good. A new problem arose: a lot words without saying much at all. This was my protagonist I was introducing right off the bat and i was falling flat. Grr.
More editing. More rewriting. More breaks to enjoy some sleep. Finished the ending the way I wanted it. So i went back to the beginning and wrote it again. However, this time I used this brain of mine to think what is it about a great beginning? And I remembered. Yay, me!
Essentially, a really astute beginning is what takes hold of the reader and never lets go is. How do you do that? Throw your audience right into it. Yes, dialogue is great, but to have your protagonist in action immediately is what really hooks the audience.
So, therefore, the new beginning is much better. My protagonist is cleaning up gallons and gallons of blood from his latest victim and while doing so, he's chatting it up with the corpse. However, the dead guy isn't talking so much :)(FYI: Residual Effects is about a tortured serial killer; previous beginnings I had him at his normal person job (dentist) talking to a patient. That belonged in second or third chapter)
Hopefully, I didn't ramble too much and I'm hoping what I learned will help others. Don't be afraid to rewrite.