Writing Chapter One – Tips

I’ve been following D. Wallace Peach for a while now, and she and her site are just amazing for story, tips, and all around writing inspiration. Today’s post was so helpful, I decided to share…And if you find it helpful too, I would recommend, while you are there, a Follow of your own. -Sheri J Kennedy, FVP editor

Myths of the Mirror


I’ve wanted to write about first chapters for a while, primarily because they’re so important. After all, they’re the gateway to Chapter 2 and getting a reader to Chapter 2 is a fantastic idea.

I did some research and almost instantly the rule-resistant rebel in me kicked in. She’s the writer who scowls at formulas, who insists that form has to fit the story, not the other way around. She’s the reader who doesn’t want to read the same story over and over with different titles.

Well, I suppressed the first-born smarty-pants part of my personality and learned a few things.

First, I learned that there are actually a number of perfectly legitimate types of first chapters. Writer’s Digest has a great article by Jeff Gerke that describes 4 approaches with examples (summarized here):

  • The Prolog – A prolog is an episode that pertains to your story but does not…

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9 thoughts on “Writing Chapter One – Tips

  1. I mostly agree with the blog about the first paragraph, but sometimes it is important to break precedence and do something different, but then the stress must be on the conflict and the mystery.

    • Yes, I like how the author of the article started out by playfully suggesting that rules are to be broken. Also, it did say protagonist doesn’t have to be mentioned first, etc. but it is what works most easily. I like stories that come in with mystery/conflict sometimes, but it must be done extremely well to make me care enough to wait for the connection to a person.
      I think it depends on genre, as well. Sci-fi can often focus on the issue before the character, but the best stories still bring in that personal connection fairly early in the story, even if the writer does it by making you as the reader feel like you are the main character affected by the issue.

      • I was thinking of my WIP. I do not introduce the protagonist, but there is a huge disaster. The man character then starts the second chapter. In my case, it is a science fiction.

    • Yes, that is what I was going to do: Have a prologue. Then I decided many people do not read prologues and the event is central to the planet Tonath. I make it Chapter 1: The Burning.

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