Thursday, 29 January 2015

Are You Making the Most of Your Opening Chapter?

Good morning to all my bookaholic friends. Lovely to see you all here on this dreary winters morning. However, we all know that reading, and writing, can cheer up the bleakest of days. Today on the post we are going to be talking writing, opening chapters in particular.

I have been reading K.M. Weiland's excellent post on the perfect ingredient for Opening Chapter. This got me thinking about what I and others think about what should be in the opening chapter of a book. I am sure we all know the importance of a cover in attracting readers, but once they open the words on the page need to speak for themselves.

I was fortunate to attend a workshop, on creating a killer first line, led by highly talented crime author Alex Gray. If you are not familiar with Alex, or her works, you can find out more here. Following this I am always conscious of the importance of the first line in drawing readers in to the story. I examine the first line from every angle and try it out on the lovely authors in my writers group. This would be my first definite must have for my chapter. A killer first line. Nothing to do with crime writing, this is the same for all writers.

Secondly, as I write crime, I will always make sure that the first murder is seen in the opening chapter. I combine this with ensuring that there is a level of tension which will keep readers wanting more. 

In the article above, it is suggested that the protagonist is always introduced in the first chapter. This is excellent advice and should always be followed. Or should it? The difficulty with lists is that one can often follow them slavishly to the exclusion of creativity and original thought. I have read some exceptional books where the killer is introduced in a very short first chapter. This has me hooked and wanting to find out more. However, I will add, that the reader will get bored if the protagonist, in my case the detective, doesn't tip up fairly quickly.

So what do others think? What are your tips, or go to's for the perfect first chapter? 

So it is farewell from Scotland. Have a great day wherever you are in the world. Always remember, whatever the weather may be like outside your window, it is always a perfect day to keep reading and/or writing. The picture at the top of the mage is to remind us all that even though we are in the grip of winter, summer is just around the corner.


  1. I'm just reading 'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent. Wow. Once you've read the first chapter, that's it. You have to know. A farming family in the early 19th century are told that they must have a murderess on their remote farm until her execution. A young, inexperienced Reverend is told he must visit her regularly to give absolution. It's impossible not to read on. And she writes beautifully.

    1. Sounds like a great book Fran. I will definitely have to pin it down. The first chapter certainly seems to draw you in

  2. Got to set things up quickly. I was pleased after reading K.M. Weiland's post on this matter, because I was doing all of the necessary things. Phew! Back to editing:-)

  3. Me too Ernrsto. Good luck with the editing and the book