Although we often have our story already fully crafted in our head, it is always still difficult writing the first chapter. Writers, emerging and veteran writers inclusive experience troubleshooting when it comes to creating a compelling first page capable of hooking the readers. Though the hook sentences plays a major role, they are however not enough to grip the reader throughout the first chapter. Readers need to be engaged with stakes that would make them commit and get equally immersed with the book. If you’re finding it difficult to write the first chapter of your manuscript, here are some tips to get you started with.
Open your first chapter in media res:
Readers do not want to get bored when they pick your book for reading. You also don’t want this after all. In Media Res is loosely translated as …in the middle of events. So, rather than start your chapter with a “Once upon a time…”. Starting your book’s first chapter with an unexpected action will stimulate immediate interest in your book.
Start your first chapter with a hook sentence:
When writing the first chapter of your manuscript, you should ensure the first sentence grabs the attention of the readers. Hook sentences generally serve the purpose of arousing the interest of readers, so you should take due advantage of it. Additionally, hook sentence works even better when you start your chapter in media res. Doing this will spur your reader to keep on reading.
Don’t lump back story in your first chapter:
The backstory is your character’s past. They do not necessarily form part of a story. But they add to the plot and create a better understanding of certain events in a literary work. To achieve a great effect with the backstory in your manuscript, you should try not to lump them in the first chapter. Rather, spread them across several chapters of your manuscript as the story builds.
You can introduce each backstory when a character wants to take action, reflects, or wants to make a decision.
Don’t introduce many characters in your first chapter:
When writing the first chapter of your manuscript, avoid introducing too many characters. Doing this may prevent you from creating a good reading effect for your readers, who tend to struggle with remembering the characters. Limiting the number of character you introduce in your first chapter will avail you the opportunity to create compelling and easy-to-remember moments and actions. The trick to this is introducing the main characters of your book in the first chapter. That is, the protagonist and the antagonist will surely suffice for the effect you wanted to create.
Introduce a new challenge:
Towards the end of your first chapter, introduce a new challenge. This is to enable your readers keep turning the pages in search of answers or remedies to illusions your book already projected in their head.
For instance, you might have a protagonist suffer from a deadly disease with an unknown cure and has been prescribed to have very few days left to live. He may then get some information about a certain herbalist in a dangerous faraway land who has the cure. The character engages in the deadly journey and spends days fighting numerous carnivores on the way. However, getting to the herbalist’s abode, he discovers the herbalist had gone on a journey that would take him many days to return.
Ending the first chapter on this note will make your readers eager to find out if the protagonist survives or not. The desire to find out how he or she sorts things out will force your readers to keep reading.
Religiously adopting the above tips on writing the first chapter of your manuscript, will give you a great head start when writing.
Chima Rachael J.