How To Start Writing Your First Novel – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” reads one of the most famous first chapter lines in literature. A poignant story, a poignant story, an unforgettable character – no, we’re not talking about a horror movie plot. Here are some elements that contribute to a compelling first chapter. We can’t give you a magic formula that will make your opening line as quotable as Charles Dickens, but we can give you some advice on how to write a first chapter that impresses readers.
To convince readers to continue reading your book, the first chapter should contain everything a summary would. You want your writing to be unique and creative, but leaving out these story elements is likely to confuse readers rather than engage them.
- 1 How To Start Writing Your First Novel
- 2 How To Start Tapping Into Your Inner Writer
- 3 Start Writing Today, Write A Book Someday
How To Start Writing Your First Novel
When it comes to a book chapter, simple doesn’t mean boring. This means not over-describing the setting, introducing too many characters, or using too technical terms at this point in the book.
How To Start Tapping Into Your Inner Writer
I think the most important thing in the first chapter is a compelling introduction to the material as well as establishing why the reader needs the information and why you are the one to provide it.
[In the first chapter, don’t] write too broadly or try to cover too much. That’s what the rest of your book is about. Give specific context, but give concrete reasons why the reader should keep reading.
Famous quotes, clichés and profound sayings are expected at this point, so what can you say that will set the tone for the book while also giving it a sense of uniqueness?
The first paragraph is where you introduce the reader to your writing style and persuade them to continue the story. Think of this as the “elevator pitch” for your book. From the first sentence, your book should express your voice as a writer and the tone of your book.
Start Writing Today, Write A Book Someday
I often start with a personal anecdote (or an anonymous customer case study) to illustrate the necessity of the information I’m sharing, my expertise, and to engage readers.
Other options include starting with a simple sentence containing only a subject and verb, a unique quote from your main character, or starting right in the middle of a conflict. E.g:
Since the first line and first paragraph of your chapter are arguably integral parts of the entire book, you should get some feedback on them early on.
Find a few people in your target audience (friends, family members, social media followers, etc.) to act as a small focus group. Send them your first line with no context (especially no indication that this is your writing from a work in progress) and ask them to share how they feel. If most of them respond with the emotions you’re aiming for, you’ve got a good opening line for your book.
Things You Need Before Starting Your First Novel
You can do the same with the entire first section or even the first chapter. Pay attention to whether your reader will continue reading and where they get confused.
Even if your first chapter is part of a larger story, you can make it especially engaging by giving it a miniature plot. You don’t want to resolve everything in this mini-plot at the end of the first chapter, but you can give your readers some satisfaction.
To do this, identify something your character needs in the early stages of the story and place one or two small obstacles in their path. This shouldn’t be the main plot of your book, but it should be relevant.
A little plot twist like this keeps the story moving and makes your first chapter more engaging. It leaves a very good impression on the readers, they will not be able to resist reading further.
Tap037, How I Edit The Outline Of A Novel Before Writing The First Draft
One way to hook your readers at the end of the first chapter and most subsequent chapters is to end with cliffhangers or loose ends. The idea is to make your readers beg for more and keep them turning page to page. As Michael Kwan suggests:
While we can talk about “closing the loop” on tasks, projects, and to-do lists, you want to leave the loops unexplained to the reader in the first chapter. You give them enough to make them curious, but not enough to completely satisfy them. So they couldn’t help but read on.
From non-fiction to fiction, the first chapters can be very different. When writing, think about your audience and your genre. What is the standard? What should readers expect? Either way, your goal is to intrigue the reader, but the approach to achieving that goal is different for each genre.
When I write novels, I write in the first person present because it has an immediacy that helps me convey emotions well because most of my novels are very emotional. I want my readers to feel like they are right there with the character. For my non-fiction work, I write almost exactly the same way I would speak to a class I teach in the same subject.
Write The Damn Book! Steps For Overcoming Your Fear Of Writing
The first chapter is the first chapter an agent will read when considering whether to pitch your book in the traditional publishing process. It’s also the first thing readers will see (after the front and back cover – which you may not have control over) if you self-publish or enter into a publishing deal. In essence, this is what determines whether someone will finish reading and recommend your book.
Whether you write it first or last, pay more attention to the first chapter in your editing rounds than to any other chapter. Make a checklist of all the things you want your first chapter to do. During each round of editing, focus on one of these elements. Are you someone who always thinks, “I want to write a novel” but doesn’t know where to start? As starting your first novel becomes less of a fantasy and more of a genuine ambition, first consult this list…
Starting your first novel is a huge feat. It is the beginning; said nothing about completing it! Throughout my short life so far, I have met a number of people who told me they would love to write a book but don’t know where to start. And then there are a few who start, reach a certain point and give up. Or actually an even smaller number made first drafts and then nothing with them.
This post is for those who need some guidance before getting serious. Becoming a writer is not just an ambition; it is also a lifestyle choice. So these are definitely five things you need before starting your first novel.
My Writing Journey
You’d really think this would be a given, but it’s hard to believe how many people expect it to take no time at all to write a compelling story. Sure, you can say a lot of words in an hour and see what you can write, but I’ll consider you a prodigy if it’s a completely coherent, interesting story with an interesting plot and attractive characters. Building all that takes time. All told, the Berylford books took me eight and twelve years to complete; it’s countless drafts, redrafts, editing sessions, planning sessions and more. With hours of social life sacrificed in the process.
My advice is, if you have a busy lifestyle, set aside a fixed period during the week – maybe a weekday evening or something – where you do nothing but write your book. . That way it becomes part of that lifestyle, as opposed to an intrusion into it.
I am often disappointed by the number of amateurs and aspiring writers who say they are writing a fantasy novel. Simply because this is such a saturated genre, I’m amazed to think how they came up with something new that wasn’t secretly “inspired” by Tolkien or George R.R. Martin.
For a story to be worth publishing (assuming that’s what you want), it must be of good quality, ie. have significant interest for the audience. And it must also be original, i.e. not made before or edited from something similar. Inspiration and influence are good, but the story must be your own. So starting your first novel requires more than just recognizing what a high-quality idea is. You also need to know the genre of your story.
Write A Novel: How To Start, Revise, And Edit A Story
A branch from the first point somehow. Engagement is important for any creative project, not just for writing. I’ve worked with enough disengaged people to know the frustrating feeling when they start something, usually well, but don’t or won’t see it through to the end. I still feel bitter about the one or two projects that dried up due to the other half’s lack of commitment.
When writing your first book, try to keep the same attitude you have.
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