Chapter One. It’s what gets agents to represent your book, it’s what gets publishers to publish your book, and it’s what gets readers to read your book. First impressions are everything! So here’s a list of resources for you when writing, workshopping, critiquing, editing, or rewriting the beginning of your novel.
The 8 C’s of Plotting: Prologue, Opening, Captivation, Change
Part of my series on plot and story structure, this post focuses on the beginning.
Subjects: the Inciting Incident (“Change”), Rooting Interests, Prologues, Opening Lines, Nine Ways to Start a Novel
WATCH, or: Where to Start and End your Novel
This post explains the acronym WATCH, asks what kind of novel you’re writing, and then teaches four different methods of where/how to begin and end your novel.
Subjects: Genre, World Building, Character Introductions
QUIZ: How should you start your novel?
A companion post to “WATCH,” this quiz will help you choose a direction when writing your beginning.
What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents
Famous First Lines Reveal How to Start a Novel
Seventeen opening lines and seven methods of writing your own
10 Ways to Start Your Story Better
Ten more methods for writing your opening line
How to Start Your Novel: What The Movie TRUE LIES Taught Me
Compare this to method #4 of “10 Ways to Start Your Story Better” for a different opinion regarding “inside-out” versus “outside-in” beginnings
- Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton
- Chapter 3 of How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein
- The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr.
I’m currently working through Bill Idelson’s Writing Class, which I highly recommend for any storyteller. It is very straightforward and highly approachable. If you read it one chapter at a time and do the assignments without skipping ahead, you WILL become a better writer. In this curriculum, Bill gives the secret to storytelling:
What makes a story? 1) A character, 2) a desire or goal, and 3) an obstacle. Introduce all three elements at the beginning. If you haven’t introduced them all at the beginning of your story, you’re starting your story at the wrong place.
Read more about character + obstacle + goal in my post here.
Want your first chapter edited by me? Fill out a quote request here and select “substantive edit” to get a sample line edit of your first 1,000 words. Then check out my special rates for the first 10 pages and 10,000 words.