Picture this: Someone picks up your book in the store. They look at the cover, read the synopsis and decide to read the first page or two.
Now, after they finish reading, they have two options.
1) Take the book to the counter
2) Put the book back on the shelf and forget about it
okay… maybe 3 options.
3) Take a photo of the book and order it somewhere cheaper
Anyway, which would you prefer your reader to do?
Buy your book and read it, right? I mean, no one wants to write a book that people don’t want to read. Well, my writing friend, to do this you are going to need a kick a** first chapter.
To help set you on the right track, here are 4 super-quick tips for writing a gripping first chapter.
Your first chapter should set the tone for your story and provide your readers with a sneak peek of all the thrilling events that will unfold inside. Think of a scene that will give your readers a snapshot of your story and make this your first chapter.
Writing about a romance? Start with the embarrassing moment they first met their love interest.
Are you taking your readers on a thrilling journey through space? Begin with your protagonist trying to land their damaged spaceship on a strange planet.
You get the idea.
Building on our last point, you will want to put your reader in the middle of the action. Yes, you could use your first chapter to set the scene and introduce your characters — J.K Rowling did this perfectly in the Harry Potter books — but the most effective way to grab a readers attention is to excite and intrigue them. Make them wonder how your character got in jail. Make them laugh at your characters first date with their crush.
Don’t Be Too Interesting
Sounds counter-intuitive. I know. As I just outlined in the last tip, the aim is to interest, excite and entertain your reader. Trouble is, this advice can often lead writers to try a little bit too hard. If you open with your protagonist flying through space and time on a half-horse-half-lizard, chances are your reader is going to think that your story is silly and amateur.
You want to give your characters a voice as early as possible. Plus, dialogue breaks up the text on the page, making more appealing to the eye of a new reader.
Publishers love dialogue. If there isn’t enough of it in your first few chapters, it’s likely they won’t spend much time looking at your manuscript.
Did you like these 4 super-quick tips? Do you have any first chapter writing tips you can share? Let me know in the comments. I would love to read them.