This is what sells your novel to the editor, then to the public. It is the first impression of your talent – and you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

If the first chapter is important, how much more so the first page. You must intrigue the reader from the outset.

Open the novel at the point where a crisis or a catalyst is about to happen. There must be some form of conflict, dilemma to be solved or drama to be unfolded.  It must take the reader straight into the drama, so that he/she knows the personality and something of the background of the characters.  The opening must give the reader the necessary information and hooks to capture their interest, making them empathise with the hero’s problems.

Don’t introduce too many characters, and don’t use names of those not actually appearing in a scene. It is only when characters appear physically on the page that they become memorable.

Tell when the story is set; where the action is taking place; what is the crisis or problem  and who is involved.

You must inform when the story starts (past or future), if it is contemporary.  Use flashbacks sparingly. Get the tense right. When possible, write scenes chronologically. In the first scene, describe the setting where the drama is being acted out. Don’t start a story too slowly.  In a good opening, the information should be given in a need to know basis.  Intrigue the reader with hooks to approaching crisis that the hero must overcome to draw them into the story.   If you can, end the chapter with a cliff-hanger. If the reader is kept in suspense, he will want to read on.

You need a balance of narrative, description, introspection and dialogue to start at a good pace.

The first chapter may be the most difficult to write, but once you’re on your way,  it gets easier.

Happy writing.  Am always glad to hear your comments and to help you with any writing problems.   Several of my novels are on sale at discount if you contact me direct at dwaysman@gmail. com


2 thoughts on “THE FIRST CHAPTER

  1. Hi Dvora,

    Interesting post! Easier said than done, I am sure. I love how you encourage writers – very generous of you.

    I am in DC to speak tonight on Aliyah and all that it means. I am excited to get more people involved in helping and looking forward to it tonight – I’m ready.

    Stay cool over there. It’s hot and steamy here : )

    Blessings and love,


  2. Dorothy OBrien says:

    Dearest Dvora

    …. for being so lax and not contacting you with my travel arrangement. I spoke to Bobbie today, who of course told me that of course I need to let you know dates for you and your family to work out as best for you. As an aside, I am hoping you too have noted a little more happiness in Bobbie’s voice. Most weeks I ring Bobbie two to three times and it seems to me that there is some improvement in her relationship with Max. Bobbie wrote a condolence message to Jilda when her daughter died, and on my reading that has been the turning point.

    Dvora, I PROMISE that tomorrow I will look at my travel dates and tour (18 July – 2 August), with a tour of 8/9 days starting 19 July. However, tomorrow I will be more precise, as is not my want normally.

    Given all your commitments, I am very shamefaced that you found it necessary to ask Bobbie to contact you.

    So excited about my trip and seeing your family. Meeting Mark, Morris and Tammy in Melbourne were very memorable occasions, and I am so hoping to reconnect with them, and Alannah and some of their families, if that is at all possible….

    Love always, and my sincerest and humble apologies from your niece and namesake…Dorothy xxxxxx

    Sent from my iPad

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