25 things you need to know about writing the first chapter.


On his blog Terribleminds Chuck Wendig talks about 25 essential things you need to know about writing an opening chapter. I think an opening chapter is like a first impression. It sticks and you only get one chance to get it right. You have to convince the reader that his time will be spent worthwhile. I have pondered very long and very hard about my first chapter. Many of the things I concluded are written (much better than I ever could) down in this post. I think everyone who is busy with a story should take a peek.

For me an opening chapter is all about the hook. You need to force the reader to keep reading. I try to start my story by posing a question. I give the writer the promise that, in due time, the question will be answered. I wait with that answer and I hope so to keep the interest of my reader. Let me know about your technique in the comments below.


25 Things To Know About Writing The First Chapter by Chuck Wendig



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~ by Sander on August 26, 2012.

One Response to “25 things you need to know about writing the first chapter.”

  1. Never mind the first chapter, it’s the first paragraph that determines whether I think that I might be hookable. I must know immediately if an author is able to draw me into the scene.

    This happened to me in Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver – I can still remember the moment – and the rest of the chapter reeled me in. That’s why I was thoroughly disappointed when I discovered that the story did not continue in chapter 2. It was about someone else and another matter altogether. I read on reluctantly, kinda pissed off, really.

    But oh the surprise when further on it appeared that the story DID continue! There were several protagonists, that’s all. Chapter 1 just covered a topic close to my heart, nature, coyote, a woman in her element in that environment. The fact that I was not able to read on immediately actually made me appreciate it more than if chapter 2 had continued with the story. So that was powerful.

    I have also used this effect in my own manuscript and two proofreaders have often asked me questions such as ‘what’s happening next with so and so?’ and ‘are you getting back on that?’ and ‘is there a follow-up on this? I’m so curious!’ They were just making sure I was not forgetting anything, which I was not, but their reactions made me know that they were wondering. So Vonnegut is right, suspense is not a must. But arousing the reader’s curiosity certainly is!

    An excellent book on Writing Fiction is by the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. As a refresher or support it can be opened up on any page, at any time.

    Like Chuck, I’m a Christopher Moore fan. He’s the only author who’s ever been able to hook me into fantasy stories, because I don’t dig those. All-time fave, Fluke. What a hoot! 2nd: Stupidest Angel.

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