Tag: compelling

Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Compelling Opening ChapterDos and Don’ts of Writing a Compelling Opening Chapter

Now we’ve learned why we should write a compelling opening chapter, my best way of beginning a compelling opening chapter, and what should be told and shown in the compelling opening chapter. Today, let’s learn the Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Compelling Opening Chapter.

All too often, writers have great content, but fail to perfect their craft, by putting a load of trash in the opening chapter. This is a sign to editors that you can write well, but you need to write tighter. How? Today we’ll look into that.

First, let’s imagine that you are an editor for a moment. A typical over-loaded, irritable editor. Two manuscripts have reached to you, along with many others. Somehow, you read these two first. You start reading the opening chapter of the first manuscript. Ten minutes later, you put it down with a cold rejection letter for the writer. Why? Because you weren’t impressed by the story. And that was because of various matters…

What Should Be Told and Shown in the Opening Chapter?What Should Be Told and Shown in the Opening Chapter?

An ideal first chapter tells the reader only what’s necessary. After all you can’t finish a story in a chapter can’t you? (Well you can with short stories… but that’s another story.) You must tell the reader the main parts, not the subsidiary parts. The things which are important must be in the front in the opening chapter. Very visible. The subsidiary parts should have the backseat.

Now, you may ask, “what the heck are the main and subsidiary parts? Didn’t we learn all things are important as architecture for a novel?”

Yes, we did learn it. But there are some things called subplots. These things are important – they add depth and reality to a story – but for that reason, they must be given secondary importance. Plots come first, subplots come second. All the loose ends come third.

Which leads to the question… “so what exactly are the main parts? What exactly should be told and shown in the opening chapter?”

The Best Way of Writing a Compelling Opening ChapterThe Best Way of Writing a Compelling Opening Chapter

“Help!” someone cried out. “Get me out of this! My leg’s fractured! Is anyone there? Help!”

“Who was that?” Victor said.

A terrible noise came from a mansion. Hammering on doors could be heard. Screams echoed in the area.

“Sounds like he’s in trouble,” Dave replied, worried.

“Fractured? How? Why?”

“Let’s find out.”

Imagine what you’d feel if you came across these opening paragraphs in a book.

Why You Should Write a Compelling Opening ChapterWhy You Should Write a Compelling Opening Chapter

Of all the novels I’ve read, I (and you) prefer those who have a compelling opening chapter. The chapter which draws us in and leads us smoothly throughout the book to the end. If we are not “hooked” by the chapter, we close the book snap shut. Which means the author has failed to do his job.

But you don’t want to be that author. You want your novel (or any form of fiction) to be a bestseller. Widely read. Widely praised. You want your reader to be hooked in. You want him/her to finish the book and not close the book until the last word has been read. You want your book to stand the test of the reader’s patience.

But how do you actually achieve this things?