1. MC94
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    MC94 Senior Member

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    Starting a Novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MC94, Oct 24, 2009.

    Okay so I've read countless articles and how-to's on how the first words of the first chapter should look like but I never get the hang of it. How do you guys like to start your first chapter?

    I usually start out with my character's full name and then a few words describing a little about that said character, what he/she is doing at the exact moment and how he/she is feeling. I try to make it catchy too, so I can get the readers' attention on the first paragraph.

    I know that may not work at some points, it happened to me a lot.

    Right now I'm in the process of writing a new Novel, I have the outline written out and everything. I need a way to start, that's always my biggest problem and the reason why I don't usually finish my Novels: The beginning sucks and I can't get myself to where I want to be by Chapter three-four or whatnot.

    Any tips? I'd like to know what all of you think, I'm tired of ten-page long articles that don't explain much.
     
  2. Mo Yeongsu
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    Mo Yeongsu Member

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    Starting is a difficult part for me as well. You want to be able to grab the reader's attention and you are afraid that by not hooking them immediately they may not want to read further. In my opinion, starting off by describing your character is too blunt unless it happens to be a clever way of doing it. The cheesy way is doing anything that is close to "Once upon a time," or the such. Try throwing the reader right into the middle of a scene or describe the scenery around where your opening scene will take place. For example, if the opening chapter is in a bedroom, describe the bedroom, making it as interesting as you can and lead up to the character sitting on the bed or storming into the room or something.
     
  3. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    I say, the first chapter is always the hardest to write. I always concentrate the most on the first chapter.

    Some people start in the middle of the action. Others begin with some sort of narrative then switch to the character's PoV. Some describe the scenary before moving onto the character. Others concentrate on the character first.

    It just all depends where you want to start.
     
  4. MC94
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    MC94 Senior Member

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    Alright, you guys are a lot of help and I'm really glad I'm not the only one who has trouble with First Chapters. What about the first, first sentence though? Would this one be okay?:

    The rain kept pouring, it seemed as if it would never let up now. For days now it had been hitting hard against the windows of the small and empty apartment...

    Of course I plan on tweaking it quite a lot, but just an example. See if I'm on the right track.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Shake things up a bit, Start a little way in, and assume the reader already knows who your character is. You can always go back later and fill in the beginning.

    Except you won't have to. Within a few pages, your reader will know your character just as well as if you had begun with the name and introduction, without all the awkward handshakes and staring.
     
  6. Mo Yeongsu
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    Mo Yeongsu Member

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    That's definitely acceptable. You're not incompetent at this at all. Just don't be so worried about it. I think you've just got a confidence issue with this. Start writing and go with it. You're first draft is never going to be your final draft, so you can do like I do and open up the draft, then open up a blank document beside it and completely re-write it, changing it as you're writing it. After a dozen times of this you will know what the perfect opening is.
     
  7. MC94
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    MC94 Senior Member

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    Thank you, do you guys mind if I post my first paragraph in this thread, just to know what you guys think? It won't be more than 50-100 words.
     
  8. Mo Yeongsu
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    Mo Yeongsu Member

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    I doubt anybody would be offended if you did. But like I said, I think you're just second guessing yourself too much. You seem bright.
     
  9. MC94
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    MC94 Senior Member

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    Thanks, I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow. Night-time usually isn't my best time for writing... I just had to get my idea all out of me before I forgot. I'll revise what I come up with once I wake up tomorrow and tweak it up so it makes more sense, then post it up for you guys. Overall I'm sure the plot is good though, I was impressed at myself. :D
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but you were misinformed. All writing posted for comment must be posted in the Review Room, after meeting the critiquing requirement.
     
  11. MC94
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    MC94 Senior Member

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    Alright, thanks I'll delete it right now. :)

    Edit: Seems you did it for me. :p
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    How do you start? Just relax and do it.
     
  13. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    I can completely relate to finding it difficult to start a new novel.... it's why I really haven't worked on any of my projects for the last year and a half (I know, awful!), but I've recently started all over agan. I decided to go back to my old days, where I didn't think very much about it; I'd just think of what I wanted to write and start off that way, and then once I'm decently in (3 or 4 chapters) map things out better. So far it's worked, just as it used to when I was younger. I'm starting on chapter 2, which is the most progress I've made on a new novel in a VERY long time. Gotta say I've been paranoid about being doomed to only being able to write short stories for the rest of my writing life, lol. ^____^
     
  14. MC94
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    MC94 Senior Member

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    Yeah, I think that's going to be my plan from now on. Just write, write, write for a few Chapters than revise it all. I do think this one will be a success though, the plot is much better than the other stories I created. Also, the characters are all completely made up. Before I would have a slightly altered version of myself with my friends as the secondary characters...That would bore me right out.
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    You could probably get rid of the first sentence. BTW, the first sentence is actually two sentences. Also, I would remove the first "now," if you decided to keep the first two sentences.

    I think the following sentence says everything your three sentences say.

    For days now the rain had been pounding on the windows of (such and such's) small, empty apartment.

    Maybe you could start from inside? What is the character doing right now?

    Mary Bell thought the damn rain would never quit as she carefully snapped 9mm bullets into a clip. The rain had been pounding on the windows for days now. Days of boredom, being locked up in an small apartment, was enough to make you crazy--damn bored out of your mind, shoot up the house up, kind of crazy.


    If you start with something like that, it immediately gets my attention. She is irritated, obviously, but why is she filling a clip? What is she about to do? Is she a cop?

    I think a beginning like that, one that raises many questions, will keep the reader reading to find the answer, so long as they like the writing.
     
  16. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Look at how your favorite author's start. The books I read always start off with a bit of both description and action. Usually the setting is established and then there's some action.

    I started off my current novel with the character waking up from a nightmare. I described things from the character's perspective right away. I quickly went over the details of the room as the character woke up, and then the character reflected back on his past and I explained why he was having these nightmares and a little bit of who he thought he was. And in between explanations my MC was walking around his apartment complex so I got to describe the setting as well. So my point is I did my best to make things as interesting as possible, without overdoing anything.

    The main thing I kept in mind was how I like the novels I read to start. Personally I don't like being thrown into the middle of an intense action scene without some prior background. That's ok for a sequel or a short story, but I don't like being in the middle of a battle when I don't know or care what's happening.
     
  17. BUDDY GORGEOUS
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    BUDDY GORGEOUS Active Member

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    Don't overthink things mate when starting, it's supposed to be fun rather than hard work :). You can always go back and polish things up a bit. Start your novel the way you want it to be. Just get stuck in and see how things turn out mate the first chapter doesn't need to be Name, age, what they've done, how many pimples they've got, what their faveourite food is, where they live ect... remember, you have a whole novel to say that ;)
     
  18. Goldie
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    Goldie Member

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    I like to start the first chapter with dialogue if I'm all about thrusting the reader into the middle of the scene. Dialogue, at least with me, tends to draw me in better than a large chunk of descriptive text.
     

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