top of page

How to Write an Intriguing First Chapter for Your Novel

When someone looks at a book, one of the first things they do is scan the first couple of pages. If they like what they read, they will continue to read the first chapter and be hooked. However, if their interest isn't immediately captured, they may move on to the next book.

So the question is how to write an intriguing first chapter?

When writing the first chapter, it is essential to reflect and ask yourself, what would immediately capture my attention? Too often, writers will start by explaining too much. They try to squeeze as much information as possible or be too descriptive. Writing like this may sometimes be difficult to get immersed in the story.

One of the best ways a writer can capture attention is to start with a great first opening line. Ideally something shocking, thought-provoking, or exciting. Example: I never thought I would smile while looking at his ruby blood on my hands. Or A partridge in a pear tree is not the way I thought I would die. While both of these intros may be a bit dark, immediately, the reader is intrigued. What led up to these events? They might wonder.

Another great way to begin a gripping first chapter is to instantly pull the reader into the scene. Don't try to explain anything, just pull them into a tense moment like a gladiator scene, an argument, a kidnapping etc. Something that will immediately get readers hearts racing and devouring the book.

For the first chapter, a good rule of thumb is, show not tell. By showing, by helping the reading get involved in the scene, they get hooked fast. Worry about the details later; your job is first to get them invested. If your main character is obsessive-compulsive, don't write about it; start with a scene of the main character furiously scrubbing their hands. This gives clues but keeps the reader guessing.

Often when beginning writers write a manuscript, most of the action comes later in the third chapter. A good suggestion is to take chapter three (or the start of the action) and place it in the beginning. Unless the intro is absolutely vital to the whole book, hack it. Most of the time, these details aren't critical to the rest of the story.

So there you are. Here are some helpful hints when writing an interesting first chapter.



bottom of page