Just yesterday I finished my new prologue and I stand on the precipice of chapter one. There’s almost nothing I love more than chapter one of any work I do. By no means am I saying that knowing how to begin a work of fiction is easy. It’s not. Sometimes the knowledge just falls on you, other times it wants to play catch me if you can.
I’m a plotter by nature and I never begin writing without knowing exactly how it ends. Not everyone writes that way though. Many of my writing friends have no idea what the final destination will be when they start out and that is the struggle and the joy for them.
Here’s my little tidbit of advice for this week…when you sit down to begin a story, think about it like a colorful maze on the back of a cereal box. The kind with the little man standing at the start and he has to decide which road to take to get to the goal. You’re the creator, you know the goal, the little man is your reader, now you have to decide how to get your little man there. You might send him on the longest route, the most direct, the scenic, or the most emotionally draining. It’s up to you.
Are you grinning evilly like me? That’s power. So once you know the road you’re going to nudge your reader down, you have to make him feel good about starting the journey. Your reader is not obligated to continue in your maze. That’s why they call it a hook. Hook em hard and fast and pull them along for a ride. And hopefully at the end, their eyes will bug and they’ll be out of breath, and they’ll exclaim, “That was great!”
Chapter one is where you reach out your hand to the reader and say, “Come, let’s have an adventure together.”