Advice from the Archives: Opening Chapters

Good morning everyone 🙂 We’re back this week with some fabulous advice that’s sure to get your first chapters working hard! This gem comes from the 2011 New Voices competition – enjoy!

First chapters need to be attention grabbing!

Your potential readers are busy women juggling studies, careers, families and time is precious. So, the first chapter is crucial to your romance – because if readers aren’t gripped, they’ll put your book down, never to return to it… So, here are our top tips on how to:

Grab your reader’s attention with a gripping first chapter.

Start at an interesting point. A point of change, an exciting moment – such as your hero and heroine’s first meeting.

Show the reader that the characters have just been plunged into a challenging situation – something that will test them and push them out of their comfort zone.

Make your first chapter work hard!

Captivate readers with your characters and make readers sympathise with them. Make sure readers engage with them emotionally – and that they are appealing and intriguing…

  • Establish the emotional conflict so readers are dying to know how it will be resolved.
  • Get the hero and heroine on page together quickly – show the chemistry and the dynamic between them, that immediate spark that makes the reader know they are going to fall madly in love.

Avoid clichés…

We’re not saying familiar scenarios can’t work (car accident, reading of the will, realizing the new boss is that one night stand from last week)… Indeed you will see them in many of our published novels, but they can be difficult to carry off.

To make them successful:

  • Choose your set-up carefully and be aware of why you are using it. Is it really the best way to bring your characters together?
  • Focus characters and explore their unique reactions to the situation – this is how you can make the familiar scenario different for your story, as well as making sure it is believable.
  • Look for ways you can twist the convention to give it your own spin and take your readers by surprise!

So, what are you waiting for? – Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) and get writing! 🙂