First chapters

by Oscar

Hi, I'm trying to write a story of an alternate universe of a world revolved around nature (Four regions known as the Springlands, Summerlands, Autumnlands, and the Winterlands), and I planned to have one character from each season to be a part of subplots-interconnected plot, but the first few chapters gets annoying, and I seem to be dumping too much information and it just gets boring, what do I write in the first few chapters?

Answer: Aspiring fantasy writers often make the mistake of thinking they have to use the opening chapters to introduce the reader to the fantasy world -- a world which they have put a lot of time and thought into devising

In fact, the "infodump" is something you want to avoid

Your primary goal in the opening chapters is to hook the reader, to get them invested in the story so they will keep reading.

How do you do that? There are two main methods. I suggest you use both.

1. Give the reader a main character they can get emotionally connected to. Make sure the reader feels something for the character, such as empathy or sympathy. Make the character interesting, likeable, or admirable. You can even make the main character dislikable -- someone the reader will love to hate -- as long as the character is interesting enough that the reader wants to see how that character's story unfolds.

In your case, you could use the opening chapters to introduce each of your central characters, one at a time.

2. Make something important happen in each chapter, something that promises to ignite a chain of
events so the reader will want to keep reading to find out what happens next. You could show the event that begins the main plot (the initial driver or inciting incident) or you could begin the main character's inner conflict by show them main character cope with a challenge in their usual way, but also have an outcome that suggests their usual way might not be adequate going forward. You could have a new threat or opportunity appear. Or you could have the main character begin a relationship with a strange or interesting person. Regardless, something must happen, a change must take place that causes characters to make decisions. Make the reader wonder what will happen as a result.

Two other techniques are very useful in opening chapters:

1. Suspense. Make the reader wonder what will happen next (as the result of what just happened).

2. Mystery. Make the reader wonder what is going on, what just happened, or why it happened. You can even make them curious about the story world, if it makes them keep reading to find out more.

As for all the details about your story world, only drop them in when they are necessary for the reader to understand the action that is unfolding. Avoid telling too much all at once. Space it out.

Another useful technique:

If your main character is going to go on a journey through the story world, you can have the reader gradually learn about the story world as the main character discovers it or visits it. This is more effective than giving an overview in the opening chapters.

Best of luck.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.