The Beginning of a Book

I've noticed a trend in my writing lately

I'm not yet sure if it's an exciting trend or a disturbing one.

I've been writing my first chapter multiple times.

I did it with the Ivolet story until I was happy with it (though the preface - apparently something hated by agents everywhere - still needs work if we're gonna keep it at all). I think I wrote the first chapter of dystopian #1 about three or four times, and I need to write it again. And between Monday and Tuesday, I wrote the first chapter of that Cinderella story twice. (This is a story I don't even really care about; you know how it goes.)

There are two reasons for this:
  1.  The first few pages matter to agents, as Agent Kristin has pointed out. Hopefully we've all read enough blog posts to realize that an agent reading past chapter one is a necessity if we want them to represent our books. So your opening better be good just for the agent-side of things.
  2. But what about the rest of the populace? If they're anything like me, they may never read past the first chapter if it doesn't grab them, even if they don't mean to be mean. Aren't they who we're writing for? We wrote that great climax; don't we want them to read it? Readers can be more picky than agents...
Where's the "how-to"? I don't have much more advice than the reiteration that those first three chapters of backstory really aren't important. I tried it. I didn't need them. I was astounded. Start your story on chapter four, and never look back. I promise it will take care of itself.

But for those of you who really want to know: BETH HAS YOU COVERED. I mean, she's in the League of Extraordinary Writers, which sounds cool enough to make me read her brilliant article on "How to Hook Readers with the First Chapter." It's legit, no joke. If you're into writing books with chapters, you have to read this article.

Any first-chapter tips you want to reveal from your treasure-chest of secrets? I'm all ears. :)

1 comment:

Faith E. Hough said...

Yes, first chapters are so important! I mean, so's the rest of the story, but it is so important to hook readers, ground them in your world, introduce characters, and on and on. It's rather like that whole rub your belly/pat your head/sing the national anthem thing, isn't it?