Chapter one is often the most difficult chapter to write, and that’s because this is where we need to grab a reader and hold them until the end of the book. We need our first chapter to work for us, we need it to be interesting and compelling. So, with that said, here are 5 tips to help you write a great first chapter!
1 – Hook your Reader
It’s important to hook your reader within the first few lines of the first chapter because this is what they’ll most likely read before buying your book. Many readers in bookshops and even online with Amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature, examine the first pages, or more specifically the first lines of a book before deciding whether or not to buy it. There are lots of ways to hook a reader, including beginning with an interesting character or setting or jumping right in with action; at the very least, you want to evoke a question in the reader’s mind, namely, ‘what happens next?’
2 – Know Where to Begin
It’s always good to know where your story begins before you write the first chapter. You may know or have an idea about what will happen at the beginning, middle and end of your book, but there are lots of ways to put it onto the page. For example, will you begin with a mega flashforward and start your book at the end of the story, filling in the rest as you go? Or will you begin in the middle, and move back and forth through the beginning and the end? If you know how you’re going to begin, it can be easier to add layers of foreshadowing or flashbacks.
3 – Introduce the Main Character
It’s always best to introduce the main character as early as possible, and you should aim to do so somewhere in the first chapter. It can be annoying to get to the second chapter and still not know who’s telling the story, or who it’s about.
4 – Introduce your Theme
Introducing the theme of your book in chapter one will help you to set the tone for the rest of the book. It can be incredibly jarring to read an upbeat, happy and light first chapter, only to find that the rest of the book is dark and gritty and nothing like the first few pages at all.
5 – Reveal the Story-world Slowly
Remember, you have a whole book to write; a whole book to explore your setting and build the story world. You have time, so don’t feel as if you need to keep hitting your readers over the head with revelations or descriptions of your setting. Just give enough detail and description so that the reader knows where and when the characters are and reveal more information as you go through the story. A lot of new writers think its best to get all the character and worldbuilding description out in one go so that the reader will understand their vision, but it isn’t necessary. Readers are patient, so take your time.
As always, thanks for spending your valuable time reading my words!
Until next time,
© 2018 GLT