I’m often asked why I require the first chapter and not the whole manuscript when taking submissions. What am I looking for in this first chapter? I found an article written by the staff at Masterclass that says it far better than I can.
How to Write the First Chapter of Your Novel
1. Establish the tone. The first page of your novel should give the reader a sense of your story’s tone.
2. Determine your point of view. Point of view is one of the most fundamental storytelling tools in an author’s arsenal, and it should be established early in the writing process.
3. Make sure your protagonist has a clear goal. When introducing your protagonist, you should make sure that the reader understands the goal that they will spend the novel trying to achieve.
5 Things to Include in the First Chapter of Your Novel
1. A gripping first paragraph: Beginning with your very first sentence, your reader will start to form their first impression of the rest of the book. That’s why the opening paragraph is so important. Your opening scene should pique your reader’s curiosity, establish your narrative voice, and serve a thematic introduction to the rest of the story.
2. An introduction to the main character: A great opening usually contains an introduction to the main character. The success of your novel or short story will ultimately be decided by your reader’s ability to engage or identify with your protagonist.
3. An introduction to the antagonist: A great main character is defined by their relationship to the antagonist. The antagonist will introduce challenges and obstacles that your protagonist must overcome, helping them grow in the process. This conflict should be introduced—or at least foreshadowed—in chapter one.
4. A vivid setting: When a reader opens your novel for the first time, they want to immediately feel a sense of place. That means including sensory details that allow them to experience the sights, sounds, and smells that your protagonist is experiencing.
5. An inciting incident: When it comes to writing fiction, nothing will propel your reader onward quite like a world-changing event for your protagonist, which is why the inciting incident should appear as early as possible.
The importance of the first chapter, as you see from this list, is crucial for an agent/publisher/editor and most importantly, a reader, to decide if they want to continue the book. If we read this first chapter, find all the above mentioned, and want to read chapter 2 then you will get a full manuscript request from us.
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