Writing Tips Round Up: First chapter4 min read

by Jan 23, 2018Tips0 comments

“The conflict you introduce? It has to matter. We need to know the stakes — as in, what’s at play, here? What are the costs? What can be gained, what can be lost? Love? Money? One’s soul? Will someone die? Can someone be saved? Is there pie? The first chapter doesn’t demand that you spell out the stakes of the entire book in big blinky letters, but we do need a hint, a whiff of the meaty goodness that makes the conflict matter.”

Chuck Wendig never disappoints when it comes to hard-hitting advice, and in this blog on how to make your first chapter the perfect reader bait, he invokes kick-ass karate chop first lines, high steaks stakes and a cliffhanger to help set the hook.

“If you’re unsure where to begin, pick a scene you know you’re going to put in—you just don’t know where yet—and start writing it. You might discover your Chapter One right there. And even if you don’t, you’ll have fodder for that scene when the time comes.”

This meaty post from Writer’s Digest offers up 8 ways to write a 5-star chapter, advising you to go light on setting, careful on detail and natural on you opening.

“For your opening scene, choose a location that doesn’t threaten your character’s comfort zone too much. Later in the story, you’ll want to raise suspense by taking your character completely out of their comfort zone, but first you must establish that zone.”

What are the ingredients for a perfect first chapter? Setting, conflict, a pinch of suspense? Try Re:Fiction‘s perfect recipe for how to write a first chapter that works.

“Your opening paragraph is the most important in the whole book—it’s what draws your reader into the story. People often think that means it must be exciting, or shocking, action-packed or dramatic. Wrong! The job of an opening sentence is to leave the reader intrigued, curious to know more, like that wistful first sentence from Rebecca.”

Need some practical advice to get going? Hobbylark takes you through du Maurier to Orwell in their post on writing beginnings.

“You can’t know where to start without knowing where you’re going. Your characters need goals, just like you do, and knowing where you direct them allows you to focus on the other fun parts of writing: world creation, dialogue, and creature creation!”

Still scratching your head for ideas? Here The Lexicon Writing Blog throws out some out-of-the-box ideas for a first chapter – such as starting at the end!

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