The first chapter in your book is the most important chapter for a number of reasons
- It must be able to convince a reader to read it right until the end which is a big commitment of time and effort
- Not only does it need to convince your readers of the worthiness of your book but also any agents or publishers. These people are hard to please, they may be extremely sceptical when they begin
If your first chapter isn't brilliant no one is going to carry on reading your wonderful tale and an unread book is a terrible thing. It's no good having some brilliant chapters at the end or middle of your novel if the first one isn't up to par.
When writing and editing your undiscovered masterpeice it's a good idea to think of the first chapter as a thank- you to the reader for turning the pages. You should reward your readers at the tale's beginning, not just at the end.
Your first chapter should be like a showcase, use it to show off your linguistic prowess. Show your writing to it's best capabilities. Make your readers weep at your mastery! Throw a few hints as to what they can expect if they carry on reading.
So how can you make your first chapter brilliant?
At the earliest opportunity insert a killer hook for your readers. This is the bait to entice your readers which will keep them reading to the end.
A killer hook is an essential question which is raised in a story, a question so enticing that a reader will want to read your story from beginning to end without pausing for breath. Be warned you must raise a brilliant question and answer it in a way that will leave your reader satisfied and entertained. The plot of your story will be based your killer question so make sure it is relevant and able to sustain the whole story.
You need to raise more intruiging questions than answers, people love mystery, they also love to guess and figure things out without being told. In my experience of being a slush pile reader many unsucessful authors make the mistake of giving away too much tedious information at the beginning which prevents the reader becoming interested. If you want to keep your readers reading, keep them guessing.
In every great tale there are great characters that leap off the page and into the readers hearts. They must be intruiging at the very least as they guide your reader through your tale. Not all your characters need to be wildly charismatic but do pull out all the stops for your protagonist. They will also need to make an entrance that is worthy of a leading man or lady.
Your first chapter should contain a unusual scenario or desperate situation that your protagonist has found themselves in. The reader will be intrigued to see if and how they can get out of trouble. The more impossible the situation the better.
And last but not least, do make sure that your grammar and punctuation is spot on. Yes it's the most boring aspect of writing but it's necessary. A polished manuscript with correct grammar and punctuation will look professional to agents and publishers. It will make for easier reading.
Good luck, never give in never give up