Warning: some of these first chapter habits are naughty but at the same time they can be quite pleasurable:
- Tell the reader everything. I am such a blabber mouth. I struggle to keep secrets and I hate surprises. Given the chance, I will tell you, the reader, everything you need to know in the first chapter about the plot, characters, twists and ending. I will feel a lot better once its out and then I will just pad out the next 130 pages. Sigh! I am controlling this by planning and structuring my plot. Being a writer who never plotted made this problem worse. I have had to change my ways to resolve this issue.
- Go cliché crazy. I love clichés. I know they can be damaging but they make me smile. Given the chance I would open my book with ‘it was a dark and stormy night’……hang on, that is the opening sentence of my book! I am controlling this by just having a raised cliché awareness.
- Introduce all my characters. I want you, the reader, to meet and greet all my major and minor characters as soon as possible. In the first chapter I am bubbling with excitement and struggling to contain myself. Given the chance I would open my book with a merry parade of all my characters. I am controlling this through planning and structuring my plot. Again being someone who never plotted made this worse. Planning and plot structure keeps my excitement under control.
- Start with a quick weather report. I am obsessed with looking at the weather app on my phone and knowing what the weather conditions are for the rest of the day / asking myself will I need a brolly (umbrella)? Seeing as though I always like to know what the weather is like outside, given the chance I would start my book with a quick weather report. I am still learning on this one.
- Extensive character lists. I love making lists. The majority of my blog posts are list based. Given the chance I would provide you, the reader, with a detailed descriptive list on what each character looks like; brown hair, chestnut eyes, slim, stick out ears, skinny legs and large feet. There would be no work for the reader if I was left to my own devices. I am still learning on this.
- Back Story Overload. I know the back story should be hinted at in the first chapter. Given the chance I would tell you everything you needed to know about the back story. A lot of books that I have read lately don’t start the backstory until chapter three – eeek! Again this can be controlled through plot and structuring of your novel. It’s a tough one especially if you are someone like me who cannot keep anything to themselves.
You will all be glad to know that I am very restrained now. If anyone would like to tell me their first chapter secrets I will not tell a soul 🙂
Take care out there writers!