How to start a novel? This question is common for most writers, We face this question every time we want to start a new novel, but are held back by our desire to write an amazing first chapter. I know the feeling and it is not so pretty, so to help I have gathered some helpful tips to help you draft your first chapter and be proud of the outcome.
Choose your POV
The first thing to do, before even attempting to write your book is choosing which POV to write in. You need to choose one that is fitting for your story, taking into consideration the genre of your book, the characters and the plot.
For example: If your book is a thriller, then writing it in first-person would be recommended. You want your readers to know only what your protagonist knows, as the genre thrives on mystery.
Obviously, this does not apply to every genre. Example, fantasy can be written in any POV. So the next thing to do would be to analyze your characters and your plot.
If you want to immerse your readers in your fantasy world, then third-person would be ideal. You won’t be limited to a character’s point of view, and how they perceive this new world.
If this seems too complicated, I’ll advise you to choose a POV that you have read multiple times.
Hook your readers
How many times have you left a book at the bookstore after reading the first paragraph, let alone the first sentence? I sure know I have. You might think this is crazy, but when you have an unlimited supply of books to read from, you do not really care about the story, rather about how it begins. And I am not the only one with that mentality. (Take Netflix for an example.) That is why Hooking your readers from the very beginning is important.
The first paragraph matters, big time.
If it’s a superhero book, why not start with an action sequence. You character can be rescuing someone or get beaten up.
If it’s a thriller, you can start at the highest point in your story, then go back to the start. It can be a bad dream or a warning to herself. This way the readers, have an idea of what might happen and continue to read, to find out what happened in the introduction scene.
Introduce your main characters in the first chapter. Not too many at once, 3 or 5 should be enough. These characters should be really important, as in they appear in the book at least 80% of the time. (This is just a guide line and what worked for me.)
It can also be a Character, that die or get heavily injured in the next few chapters. As long as they have a great significant role in the story, introduce them early on.
How you introduce them also matters.
End with a cliffhanger
We have already talked about creating tension in your story, by having something go wrong in the first chapter. So why not use that opportunity and end it with a cliffhanger.
Ending your first chapter this way, will make your readers come back to read the next chapter or continue reading. You don’t want the person reading your book to stop after reading the first chapter.
That was it about how to start your novel, I hope it helped you in some way. Just a reminder, sometimes it is better to just start writing and not worry about making it perfect. You will have plenty of time to perfect it in the editing phase.
Thank you for reading and for joining me on this learning journey. If you have more tips, you can comment it below or you can subscribe to our newsletter, to get updated on similar posts.
The part about hooking your readers is so true.
I have one book that starts like “The park outside the church smelled like pigeon droppigs and cat pee”. It killed me.
Speaking of that book it also has this thing where one chapter is from the pov of the main charecter(present) then the next chapter is a third person pov of what the second main charecter did in the past. And it kept going like that till the end when the main charecter meet the past version of the secondary charecter.
It’s really interesting how different povs can be mixed together to tell an unique story that without them would be impossible.