Hopefully by the end of this post, if you're struggling with your first chapter, you'll have a few new ideas or concepts to play around with.
(Quick side note: this is second post in my new blog series 'Let's Talk Editing' where I'll discuss editing elements as I go through the process of editing my own novel, Draped in Deception. If you'd like to check out my first post, click here.)
A few weeks ago I was frustrated with how my story started. It seemed far too cliche, dumped a load of back-story, and was disjointed from the rest of the novel. Today, I have a first chapter that I'm satisfied with.
It didn't come in a burst of epiphany. It came from this:
Trying everything and anything
What on earth do I mean by this? I mean that I sat down, and wrote all the possible first chapters possible. I switched settings, the time from the inciting incident, how characters were introduced, first lines. Everything.
This sounds a little overwhelming at first, but I promise you, it will be worth it. If it seems like you have too many options of what could happen, work out your possibilities around these key factors:
- Introducing the main character/POV
- Introducing other key characters, and conflict
- Introducing the antagonist (other writers usually suggest this happens in first three chapters or so)
- Introducing the setting/storyworld
- Showing your character's home world
Gosh, that's a lot to include, right?
|One of my biggest changes was moving the scene to a train and its station rather than a forest, which then influenced everything else|
I want to talk about the last point for a bit. Showing your character's home world is primarily included so a reader can see how the character has developed over the course of the story. But this doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be in their home world.
For example, in Draped in Deception, one of the POVs Lissaer has just been on a month long journey with her combat trainer into foreign territory. If I was to show her in her home first, there would be an awkward time jump between her home and arriving in the country, as nothing important happens on the trip.
So how can you convey the home world without your characters physically being there? Through dialogue, and mentality. If your characters start in their home, great, but if not don't worry. In Draped in Deception Lissaer's conversation with her trainer shows both Lissaer's perception of herself, and other's perception of her.
But enough about my story. My best advice if you're stuck on how to edit your first chapter is to not be afraid. Try it all. It took me drastic setting changes (from a forest to a train), adding and subtracting characters, and writing several versions to get one I was ok with.
You can do it; I believe in you and your story.
Do you struggle writing first chapters or are they fairly easy for you? Are you editing right now, and if you are, how is it going?
Let me know in the comments; I love hearing from all of you! <3