Issabelle's Posts,  Writing

Where to Begin?

Ever had a great idea? You’ve worked the plot out, you’ve constructed the characters. Now it’s time to sit and write. You grab your pencil or open your computer. Everything you’ve worked on is finally coming to life, and then….

Nothing.

Where are you suppose to start? You know the beginning has to be good enough to grab the reader’s attention, yet give the reader a glimpse into your book’s main character all at the same time. How do you prevent boring your audience? How do you avoid dumping a ton of information down?

First off, it depends on what genre you’re writing in. I write a lot of suspense, so I will sometimes use a one-word opening paragraph. Look at the opening lines of books you’ve read whose genres are similar to your’s, but don’t be afraid to veer off the path. In writing, most of the rules set are almost always broken. Experiment with different opening lines, and see which works best for your book. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get an amazing opening line on the first try. In the book I’m currently working on, I had to rewrite the opening line more times than I could count. Eventually, I found the perfect way to start it.

Maybe you’ve already gotten an awesome line, and now you’re wondering: What’s next? This is where it gets fun. Now you get to write the first chapter. Here are some key points you want to accomplish in your first few chapters:

  1. Introduce your world. Your reader should begin seeing a glimpse into what life is like in this book, but don’t over do it. You don’t have to go into a ton of detail to prevent boring the reader. Maybe show some small details of what is happening and how it affects your MC (main character). Now this doesn’t apply if your MC is being introduced into a new world. If so, you can do a lot of explaining through another character. Just be reminded that these are only tips, and not everything will work for your story. Every tale is different, so do what’s best for your book.
  2. Show a little bit about your MC. You don’t have to spill everything about the MC in your first opening chapters- leave space for character development. Just make sure you give the reader enough to make the MC feel real and provide your audience an idea of what your character is like.
  3. Show an idea of where the plot is heading. This is pretty much self-explanatory, so I’m just going to add a small note. Try to hook your reader into the plot as early as possible. You don’t always have to give the background of what has happened prior to the plot’s beginning; you can always explain some of that later IF it is necessary for your book. If some of your opening chapters don’t move the plot, you might want to consider taking them out.

Below are some amazing opening lines to study.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen: If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life. Then again, I’m not sure I ever had a choice.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter: Madeleine Rose Manchester had absolutely no intention of invading the White House. But she knew seven different ways she could do it if she’d wanted to.

Aim by Joyce Moyer Hostetter: It was Pop who taught me to shoot.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein: This is how Kyle Keeley got grounded for a week.

Once upon a time – classic πŸ™‚

Share in the comments your favorite opening line. And if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments. Keep Writing!

Issabelle Perry is a devout follower of Jesus Christ and an extroverted, slightly crazy, teenage published author of YA fantasy. On the rare occasion when she's not plotting and pursuing her next story idea, you can find her reading, blogging, graphic designing, searching the web for odd facts about the middle ages, hunting for Narnia in wardrobes, or envisioning herself wielding a magnificent sword (but due to her clumsiness, let’s hope that never happens). This self-proclaimed exclamation mark enthusiast and obsessed fan of LOTR and The False Prince (by Jennifer A. Nielsen), is a co-founder of the popular Teen Writers' Nook where she and her sisters are dedicated to motivating and supporting young authors. What she's probably doing right now is fangirling about her favorite books to random people, trying to figure out how to fit the five new books she bought on her overflowing bookshelf, or scanning the pantries for chocolate.

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