Posted in Writing Tips

Dos and Don’ts of Chapter Openings

Chapter openings have a lot of weight on their shoulders. If they’re not interesting enough, readers will put stop reading–or give up on the book all together. Here are some tips to keep your readers hooked chapter after chapter.

Do let us know right away which character’s POV we’re reading from if it’s a multiple POV story. (Don’t use pronouns in the first sentence.)

Don’t start with descriptions of weather.

Do use a sentence that holds a question—makes the reader wonder something enough to want to read on. You should have a hook sentence at the beginning of every chapter.

Don’t use dialogue with no context on the first line.

Do start in the middle of the action. Skip your character’s daily routine. We don’t want to see them waking up, hitting the snooze, or brushing their teeth. Get to the good stuff fast—even better, start right in the middle of it.

Don’t mislead the reader by using a sentence that deceives them into thinking the scene will be more exciting than it actually is. You can’t have a fantastic hook sentence, then a subpar chapter. Set up what to expect. (Though your whole chapter should be fantastic *wink*)

Don’t start with any kind of info dump. I don’t care how interesting your character’s backstory is, or how beautiful the trees are. They don’t belong in any opening.

What others would you add? Let me know in the comments.

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Author:

Hello! My name is Katie and I like to write. If I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, running, playing with my dogs, or eating peanut butter ;)

4 thoughts on “Dos and Don’ts of Chapter Openings

  1. I don’t have much experience writing novels, I generally stick to writing plays, but this post gave me something to think about. Thanks!! Check out my blog if you want to see some writing prompts and other such fun!

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  2. I think first chapters are the most nerve racking for a writer. As the old clique goes, you have one shot to make a first impression–and that’s what the first chapter must do. Good thoughts to ponder – thanks!

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    1. I completely agree. I almost always rewrite the first chapter five or so times–much more than any other chapter in the novel–because I’m so worried about getting it right. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

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