A little thought on first chapters

I’ve been working on the opening to my upcoming novel this week, and I think I’ve realised that the key to grabbing a reader’s attention might just be to – well, how would you feel if I didn’t tell you just yet?

I think it’s that familiar mixture of intrigue and anticipation experienced in other areas of life which convinces a reader to stay between the pages. This feeling comes before a reader has got to know a book’s characters, and before they’ve decided if they enjoy the author’s style.

This is (I think!) what first chapters should do: ask a question, the more mysterious and captivating the better. It’s only natural for humans to want to resolve a situation, and, if a reader is invested in the question from the off, they’re much more likely to read the rest of a given novel too.

So, what do you think gang? Do you agree?

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2 responses to A little thought on first chapters

  1. Steve Caddy said:

    I don’t think there is one perfect way to start a story. A lot depends on who you want to capture in those first few words. I write for children, so I like to start with a burst of action, and pick up the pieces from there. But I have written works that open up more gradually. I like the idea of waking up with a character, and many of my stories start first thing in the morning, when everything is fresh and new and waiting to be discovered. But of all the books I’ve read, I think the best opening chapter was that from J K Rowling in “Order of the Phoenix”, which took a rare step away from seeing the world through Harry’s eyes (the predomenant point of view for the entire series). So pick and choose… but make your choice based on your desired audience.

    • Jack Croxall said:

      Good advice Steve, especially that part about waking up with a character. I’ve never thought of that before but it makes total sense now!!

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