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