Look at the title of this blog post.
Why? Because that is exactly how you do not want to start off your first chapter.
Not unless you want all your readers to run away mid-chapter from your book.
“Um, Lumi. This is a writing guide. I feel so attacked right now.”
Welcome to the real world.
Back to the original topic, then.
So, how do you even start the first chapter? Well, there is no formula for writing a great first chapter, but here are some tips that can help guide you in the right direction.
1. Start as close to the ending as possible.
If your story is about a girl that gets kidnapped while she is on vacation, do not make the first chapter about her waking up in the morning and doing her routine. No, you want to start closer than that. Maybe, you write about her packing. Or maybe, you write about her already on the vacation. Just some food for thought. Starting off with an action-filled chapter raises the chance that a potential reader will stick around to read more.
2. Do not, and I repeat do not, stuff information down your reader’s throat.
I mean, sometimes, it can’t be avoided. But if you go on for too many paragraphs about things that have nothing to do with the current action, you need to stop. We get it. You created this fantastical world and now, you want to share every single detail about that. It’s great and all, but just shoving all that down at once will not leave a good impression.
Readers like me sniff out info-dumping chapters and run before it gets too long.
It’s recommended (by me, of course) to slip in tiny pieces of your world development over the span of the book (or books) to keep the reader on their toes. You get to share your wonderful world, and the reader gets to read something that isn’t just an encyclopedia about a made-up world. I mean, if you want, you could write an encyclopedia…
Ahem. Moving on.
3. Take your time when writing out your first chapter.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, you’d be surprised at how many people rush through their first chapter just to get to their second or third or… nth chapter. And because they didn’t develop their plot well enough in the first chapter, the mistakes carry over.
And what do you end up with in the end? A sloppy story riddled with plot holes. Try to be patient, if you can. Writing will get much easier once you have a few chapters written. You’ll also want to make sure your motivations are in the right place, too.
When you write because you love it, your words will glow and your writing will shine brilliantly. People can tell whether or not you actually care. It’s hard to explain how, but once you’ve read/written enough books, you can learn to tell the difference.
On that note, if you plan to share your story on Wattpad, I recommend writing a few chapters ahead of time. This way, if you decide you don’t want to continue writing the story, at least you won’t disappoint readers. Plus, you’ll seem more responsible.
This is the strategy I’m taking with my future novels. It also gives you a good buffer room if you forget to write a chapter one week. If you plan to post only once a week, imagine how long 5 chapters would last you. 10 chapters. 20 chapters. Or even 30 chapters.
You’ll be on track to complete the book. And for those who have not yet completed a book, this can be very reassuring and good news. This has gotten way off track, so I’ll start wrapping it up. If anyone wants personal writing advice, don’t be afraid to reach out!
Just leave a comment or contact me through my contact page. I’ll be happy to talk to you about your writing or just to bounce ideas with you. Please note that I won’t actually read/edit/critique your writing because I’m a university student with little free time.
I’ll try to respond back within 48 hours. Farewell for now, then.