This is what sells your novel, first to an editor, then the public. Remember the advertising slogan: You never get a second chance to make a first impression! And even more so, the first page which a reader in a shop will rarely get past.
Open your novel at a point where a crisis is about to happen. There must be some form of conflict, dilemma to be solved, or drama about to unfold. You draw the reader into the story , and ensure that he/she knows the personality and something of the background of the characters. Hook their interest and let them empathise with the problems.
Don’t introduce too many characters at once, and don’t use names of those not actually appearing in the scene. It is only when they appear physically on the page that they become memorable. Remember, WHERE the action takes place; WHAT is the problem; WHO are the characters involved.
Tell the reader when the story starts, if it is past or future, or contemporary. Use flashbacks sparingly. When you return to the present, it must be clear to the reader.
Getting the tense right is vital. Write scenes chronologically if possible. Try to show events to the reader and not just tell them. Within the first scene, describe the setting where the drama is being enacted. Many new writers start the story too slowly, beginning at a point before the real drama starts. But also don’t rush in with action before the reader knows why the characters react as they do.
Intrigue the reader with hooks as to an approaching crisis or drama that the hero must overcome, to draw them into the story. Build suspense and tension in the first chapter. Introduce emotional intensity to keep the reader guessing and emotionally involved. End the first chapter with a cliff-hanger, so that they’ll want to read on.
A balance of narrative, description, introspection and dialogue is important to start at a good pace. Be prepared to rewrite several times, always being aware of information needed, and maintaining the drama and pace the hold the reader’s (and publisher’s) attention.
Happy writing. I am always here to help you with any writing problems. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me at discount.