Over the past week, I’ve been looking at editing. Cutting unneeded information is the key to focusing into what you want the audience to know. Many times as writers we want to tell the audience everything all at once to try to place them in the story. The important thing is to let the events unfold to the reader in a way they can see clearly the characters motivations.
First chapters are the devil in my opinion. They are your everything and with that being said, sometimes the rewriting of them over and over becomes exhausting. I thought I’d touch on a few helpful ideas and links that can make writing and editing your first chapter easier.
KNOW WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT
Chapter one is a story unto itself. Think of it that way. How does this journey begin and what is the MOST important thing to get a crossed? That should be your focus. That doesn’t mean you can’t put small amounts of other information the reader will need to know, but your focus needs to be on driving the reader to turning the page for the right reason. What is that reason? If you don’t know then I suggest you figure that out.
INTRODUCE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER
Things you need to have on that first page that are critical.
- The name of your main character
- Their age
- Use tension to your advantage
These need to be integrated naturally into the story without feeling like you are checking off your boxes. They can be addressed many ways. Be creative!
WHAT IS MY BOOK ABOUT?
Elizabeth Sims from Writers Digest has some great ideas to help you with your first chapter. She asks,
“What is your book about? What purpose(s) will it serve? Write your answers down and look at them from time to time as you write.”
These are all things you need to know when writing an effective first chapter. I suggest you read her post linked here in her name. Knowing your purpose will help you shape your story completely and help you focus your reader.
TAKE SOME TERRIBLE ADVICE
The Terrible Minds blog has a great list of 25 things your first chapter needs. Watch for the language on the site. It is terrible, but the information is awesome. You will get SO much out of it.
Just remember you can do this. Chapter one is the beginning of your everything.