5 Rules For Chapter One Of Your Book

Hey, some of these tips might help with that WRITING CONTEST you are thinking about entering!

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1. Start the story as late as possible

2. Have a grabber opening

3. Make the reader care, usually via the MC

4. What are the stakes? What can be gained or lost?

5. End with a cliffhanger so we go to chapter 2

Need more info? Let’s read on then, shall we?

(Learn more about writing better stories HERE)

 

Start the story as late as possible

Most authors bury the really interesting stuff a few paragraphs in, or worse, in chapter two or three. What’s the first interesting thing that happens in your story? Start there.

(Learn about tightening your story HERE)

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Have a grabber opening

Holy cow, am I intrigued by this prose!
Holy cow, am I intrigued by this prose!

I like a “grabber” opening to a story and especially the opening chapter. Stories that hook a reader right away and keep the reader turning pages are stories that get read – and will receive comments like “I couldn’t put it down.” Of course, that’s not always possible, but do your best. Like I said, most authors bury the really interesting stuff a few paragraphs in. At least don’t do that.

(Learn about breaking down you epic saga HERE)

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Make the reader care, usually via the MC

Because if readers don’t care… they don’t care. Do you intentionally do stuff – voluntarily – that you don’t want to do? Reading your book is not a job requirement. It’s supposed to be fun, a diversion.

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Click HERE to read two sample chapters.

What are the stakes? What can be gained or lost?

We know a story’s supposed to have conflict. A story were nothing bad happens is a DULL story, as in, nobody’s reading it. Put your character up a tree and throw rocks at them. Tension. Conflict. All that good stuff. But it starts in chapter 1 by letting the reader know what is at risk. You have sample chapters of Poggibonsi available on this website. Go read chapter one and tell me what’s at stake. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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End chapter ONE with a cliffhanger so we go to chapter TWO

Just about anything can be a cliffhanger of you do it right. Ask a question in chapter one that we have to go to chapter two to find the answer. Which we won’t do if we don’t care. Of course, that’s not always possible, but most authors should usually end their chapter a few lines or paragraphs before they actually end it. Instead, we resolve a question on OUR mind, and we stop – big mistake. Leave it for chapter two to resolve it, and readers have to read on.

(Find your story’s voice HERE)

There are more, but this is good to get started. And chapter ONE’s job is NOT to do everything!

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your humble host

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.”  Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

 Available in paperback and audio book formats, too!

 

 

22 thoughts on “5 Rules For Chapter One Of Your Book

  1. This is a timely reminder, thank you. I’m only at first draft stage of my novel, but my gut is telling me the story starts too early and I should get the background info across in a more imaginative way than making the reader sit through it.

    Liked by 1 person

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