What Content Goes Into Your Novel’s Opening
When writing a novel, your opening chapter is usually make or break. Do it right and you’ll hook the reader right in. Do it wrong and they’ll put the book down, never to be flipped through again.
Getting the reader emotionally invested early on will have a lot to do with how you set up your story. And these content elements are what will ensure that you lay down the proper foundation:
- Acquaint the reader to your main characters. Good novels rely on interesting characters. Introduce your reader to the main players in your opening, especially the lead protagonist and the antagonist opposite the hero.
- Hint at how it ends. You don’t need to give away the milk without having the reader go through the motions. But teasing them with a brief foreshadowing is perfectly acceptable — even if you’re leading them down the wrong road to a surprise.
- Show your main character under stress. Depict your protagonist under some form of minor crisis as a precursor to the bigger challenge that awaits further on in the story.
- Give the reader an idea of what’s at stake. What does the hero stand to gain or lose during the course of the story?
- Establish the scene of the conflict. Use the opening chapter to establish the setting of the story and the scene of conflict, setting the tone for what comes later.