I find the first paragraph (let's settle on Chapter 1, not Prologue) of a novel to be ridiculously hard to write. In many ways it is the flagship of the piece as anyone who cracks open the book is going to read those first couple of lines and if it doesn't grab them they are going to just put the thing back on the shelf. What is a list of things you believe are crucial to be included in the first paragraph? Let us assume that it is already written to the best of one's abilities, but what story "meat" should it include, if any? Should it be all tone/emotion setting? What about scope? Should it start from the biggest picture or something tiny? Do you think you need some kind of environmental information included, the name of your main character, a description of them? And if you believe it depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell, then please give an example of one and what you expect to learn in these first few lines. Let's limit this to opening paragraphs of novels/novellas, as short stories are an entire other animal. P.S. This is not a "How it needs to be done." kind of thread, but a "What are your personal preferences?" kind of thread.