How to Write Your First Chapter

Our minds have been made up! We’re going to write a novel! Since we’ve already taken time to decide on whether we’ll write an outline, be a pantser, or do some hybrid of the two writing styles, let’s now turn our attention to the all important first chapter.

First chapters are crucial to how your novel will be received by your readers. In a few short pages you can start the process of blowing them away or you could lull them to sleep. Keep in mind that readers want to be excited about your content. They want to be wowed. Readers will give you every opportunity to live up to the expectation of a great story. Think about that as you craft the beginning of your saga. Your readers will be rooting for you! It’s up to you to not let them down.

Since this is the case, put thought into how you will hook your readers from the start. View each chapter as a distinct scene. When there’s a change in scenery, then you need a new chapter. So for this first scene, be deliberate with what happens. Be intentional with regards to the dialogue, or lack thereof. Be specific when it comes to your character introductions.

Instead of boring you with my thoughts on writing your first chapter, I want to point you to two resources that do an excellent job. What Makes and Amazing First Chapter by Jeni Chappelle is phenomenal at giving you an overview of what you should be looking at and thinking of. In What Happens on Page One: 30 Ways to Start a Novel, Bryn Donovan will give you more specifics. She provides fair warning and share what you should absolutely stay away from at the start of your novel. But she will also give you thirty other ideas that make for exciting openings.

Read and take them into consideration as you begin to craft your first chapter. One final note… If you come across hypertext links in the pages that bring you to other articles, get curious and click them. The rabbit hole goes deep. You should follow it.

Click on the titles above or images below to get started.

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