How to Rewrite Chapter One (Again) and Keep Your Sanity

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.



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.


Text handwritten with white chalk on a blackboard.

Things you need to have on that first page that are critical.

  1. The name of your main character
  2. Their age
  3. Setting
  4. 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!



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.



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.

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

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