As a reader, is there anything more exciting than opening a new book and being completely hooked by that first sentence, paragraph, page, chapter? For writers, the openings of your novels are your chance to show off what's amazing about your book and to convince your readers to stick through to the end. Here are nine tips to help you pull that off!
Tip 1: The beginning of your story should provide both clarity and intrigue: too much intrigue is confusing, too much clarity can be boring. Balance the questions and answers.
Tip 2: Some authors write extended intros because they need all that information to tell the story—but your reader rarely needs that much info to enjoy it!
Tip 3: Start right before the first change in your protagonist's everyday world. You can take a moment to establish what life was like, and then readers want to see how that will be transforming.
Tip 4: Your protagonist should have clear goals right at the start (even if they're about to change): an aimless protagonist will make the beginning feel aimless.
Tip 5: Your protagonist should take initiative from the get-go: let their actions show who they are and why your readers should want to pay attention.
Tip 6: Point to the main plot right away! While you don't need to (and often shouldn't!) start with the inciting incident, your book should clearly be leading to the primary conflict.
Tip 7: Immediately demonstrate what's unique about your story. Your readers won't grab the hook if they don't know about the bait!
Tip 8: Give your book an honest beginning - it might be easy to hook readers with dramatics, but if it's too different from the rest of your story, you'll lose them soon after.
Tip 9: Respect your reader! Their time is precious, and right now they're spending it to give your book a chance.
Your opening chapters can be tricky to edit, especially if you have a good story, because you already know why people should keep reading. Your beta readers and critique partners might also struggle with providing feedback for the same reason if they've read the whole book and liked it. But if you want your work enjoyed by strangers, a strong start is crucial. For that reason, it's smart to share your opening with a bunch of folks or to seek professional guidance to whip your opening into shape. If you want a masterful eye on your first sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, check out our services page to see if Book Light Editorial can help you with revisions!