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Chapter One

edited January 2014 in Writing
I keep rewriting Chapter One - I am trying to include the theme in the first few lines/paragraphs. I need to know when to stop. :) Do you think it is important to try and include the theme in the first part of chapter one? Sometimes I read back what I have written, and it seems stilted. I am probably not writing naturally enough, as I am trying too hard to get Chapter One correct. Does anybody else have this problem?


  • Getting chapter one right is very important. I don't think it's possible to try too hard to do that - unless you've not written all the other chapters yet?
  • Get on with the rest then you'll find Chapter One much easier...
  • Start writing bang right in the middle of the action - that's where it should start, and the theme is immediately there. First chapters that strain to 'tell' are a huge mistake.
  • edited January 2014
    Everyone's different, but I have found by bitter experience that the best way to deal with a recalcitrant chapter is to ignore it and go on to the next one. Write any old way - within limits - and rewrite it later. You'll be doing several drafts anyway, so don't sweat the first one.
    Good luck.
  • I always have difficultly with the first chapter. I often write the rest of the book first and then return to it. I agree with that has already been said, start with the action to hook the reader.
  • I've changed the opening chapter of my current WIP so many times I've lost count, and I mean changed it as in swapped chapters around. Now I don't worry about it too much because as I develop the story further, sometimes the "right" opening chapter throws itself up. Also, I like to know what my ending will be and I find it helps then to work back to the start, if the at makes sense.

    At the moment, my MC is mulling over a huge looming problem, and her fear of it and how to solve or avoid it seems to be the right place to start and bring the reader in.
  • Thanks everyone! I have already written the whole novel, but definitely need to re-work Chapter One. The whole thing needs editing as well. I am working through it now and your tips has helped. Thanks so much!
  • My current novel went through four different Chapter Ones before settling on the one it has now.

    I wouldn't worry too much, I don't know of a writer who writes a perfect first chapter straight off. Rather than trying to insert a 'theme' I recommend making sure you raise the question your book will answer. So, will boy get the girl? Will the police find out who killed Jane?
  • I've just written a blog post called Chapter One if it will be of any use to you, Helen!

  • edited January 2014
    Interesting post, Lou.

    If you haven't written the rest of your book yet, Helen, then I wouldn't worry too much about introducing the theme right from the start. It may change as you go - for example, your story might initially be about betrayal, but end up being more about redemption by the time it's finished.
  • Hindsight is a wonderful thing. As several TBers above have said, their original first chapter (and I slaved over mine) turned out to be irrelevant, a distraction, out-of-date or otherwise useless. Now that the book is finished and only editing lies ahead, it's easy to see that the best plan would have been to write the whole thing non-stop, almost as a Nanowrimo. Then see where things need levelling out, deleting or ammending.

    I must remember this advice when I start my next.
  • Interesting thread. I've never attempted to write a novel, but it's always interesting to read about other writers methods.
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