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?
How do you ensure that the reader will actually do the above?
The answer is simple. You write a compelling opening (first) chapter.
It’s magic! The compelling opening chapter ensures that the reader will continue with the book. It ensures that he’ll not close the book snap shut right after reading the first page. It ensures that he/she will be hooked. Despite his impatience, he/she will read on.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that he’ll not close the book anytime he’s reading. You can’t guarantee that, unless you are perfectly sure that your book is perfect (no one’s is). Anytime you write a chapter which doesn’t interest the reader, he/she will close the book. So you can’t say a compelling first chapter is everything.
But it’s a foundation. A foundation for your book. History says that the odds are very less when it comes to books having great first chapters and lousy follow-up chapters. In simpler terms, if you write a compelling first chapter, it’s taken for granted that you can write. That you can write well.
- Here are the reasons why you SHOULD write a compelling opening chapter:
- It distinguishes you from the “slush pile.” To those who don’t know – and I didn’t until recently – the slush pile means the pile of unsolicited (not represented with an agent) manuscripts which are to receive a rejection letter.
- It says to the editors compellingly that you can write.
- It is a great help in making the editor decide to publish your book.
- When it’s published, it makes the reader read on.
- It makes the reader say, “Now that’s interesting. That’s going to be good.”
- If the rest is as good, the reader will finish reading the book. And – shock! – praise it.
- Helps spread the word.
- Makes you famous. 😉
So You Know All Those Reasons Why Should Write It? Now Let’s Learn How.
That’s all for today. But before you go away, there’s a notice:
This post is a part of series on Writing the Best Opening Chapters.
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Cynthia Davis says
Do you have online classes?