First chapter matters. In fact, it matters a great deal, and you don’t want to lose any potential readers, right? Give your book a real head start by writing a strong and engaging number one chapter. In this article, we’ll share a few working tips on how to do it.
Grammar, Grammar, Grammar
Your novel may be an instant hit, but grammar errors are what makes it or breaks it for many readers. If an author doesn’t take time to proofread the text, they may feel it’s not really worth it. Avoid this mistake and double-check your work for any grammar fails. You’re welcome to use an online spell-checker; the more advanced ones will even give you some wording suggestions.
One of the best ways to proofread your text is to find an editor. That’s what all publishing agencies do, after all. No need to pay a professional: ask your friend who’s good with the language to go through your primary chapter. You can also discuss the editing limits in advance to spare time and effort. Opt for grammar only – or ask for wording and style suggestions as well.
Don’t Summarize Your Book
Think of your first chapter as a good movie trailer. On the one hand, you want to introduce the main characters, plot, and style of your work. But on the other hand, if you give away too much, what’s the point of watching the whole movie?
In simple words, don’t include a plot summary or massive spoilers in your primary chapter. Find a way to hook the reader from the first few paragraphs – but don’t give away all that’s coming next. The plot twists and shocking revelations work best where there is a build-up, and the first chapter simply doesn’t have enough space for it. Instead, give the reader a solid reason to continue with your book.
Focus on the First Paragraph
Let’s be real: you don’t have the luxury of a reader’s infinite attention span. That’s why your first chapter must really hit the bull’s-eye. Think of an opening scene that will have them instantly hooked. Some writers even write such scene after finishing the book, but you don’t have to go to these lengths.
A common first chapter mistake is dragging out the character/plot introduction. Unless you’re a 19th century novelist, don’t be too wordy or reflective at the start of your book. The room décor or character’s appearance can be described in one-two sentences (and you can get back to that later in the story). Focus on showcasing your character’s goals instead: who are they? What drives and motivates them? How will this kick-start the plot?
Action Set-Up Works
Have you thought of opening your book with a flashy action scene? Of course, this depends on the genre and style of your writing in the first place. But if the story does have a good fight or chase scene, why not simply move it to the start? Unlike in real life, a fictional story doesn’t have to start with the beginning. You can always pick one of your top scenes (no heavy spoilers though!) and proudly put it on the first page.
Decided to go with an action opening? Make sure your fight/chase scene is not dragged out, doesn’t stray away from the overall book tone, and takes at least some time to introduce the main characters. This way, you’ll bring down two birds with one stone: hook the reader and deliver a proper introduction. If a decent movie trailer can pull this off, why can’t you?
Penning a solid first chapter will take some work – and imagination, but we at AlphaNovel believe that yours will be a real smasher. So good writing luck!