How To Start A Novel – How do you start a chapter in a novel to engage the reader and move your story forward? These 10 examples show you how to start counting your chapters:
That evening it rained from the sky. They climbed to the top of the mountain, rolled the chariot over the rooftops and flew across the valley between the houses. All the streets were surrounded by them, shining white in the sky. Urgent message for the residents of this city, they said. Immediately open the state. Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Can’t See (2014), p. 3.
How To Start A Novel
Hinting at a mysterious imminent situation (we don’t know, at this point, why the townspeople would need to evacuate).
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However, often providing a broader perspective on where we are at this point in history helps connect events to a point.
The reader has the key information he needs to understand things. Watch the opening of Doerr’s second episode entitled ‘Bombers’:
They crossed the channel at midnight. There were twelve and they were screaming: Stardust and Stormy Weather and In the Mood and Pistol-Packin’ Mama. The sea stretched far below, filled with countless white seaweeds. Soon, sailors could see how many islands shone on the moon. France. Maker, p. 4.
Here are all the elements of an event planning plan: Location (Channel between England and France). Time: Midnight. Transport and directions through space: Across (the channel). To: French Isles.
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Who inspired the HBO series of the same name, is a master of creating suspense in multiple ways.
“I’m fine,” said the woman. “I do not have anything.” It’s not looking good for Yao. It’s your first day as a professional paramedic. Third call. Lianne Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers (2018), p. 2.
Apart from. Yao is a paramedic and the woman (we understand in context – because the woman says ‘I’m fine’) is the right person to answer.
Dialogue is an important tool for managing story tension. Here the tension builds up for several reasons. First, because it means something is wrong with the woman (something fast enough to require a paramedic). Second, because of the conflict between Yao’s existence and the woman he said was good.
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In Moriarty’s novel, nine strangers (as the title suggests) gather at a peaceful resort where the setting becomes somewhat fishy.
On a warm, cloudless January day, Frances Welty, former best-selling romance novelist, drives through the wet desert just six hours northwest of her Sydney home. Moriarty, The Nine Perfect Strangers, p. 6.
When Moriarty gives pending plot information that what happened is 10 years after the events of the first episode, we have
Connecting the events of chapters one and two. Although the extent of their relationship has yet to be revealed (Frances has signed up for a peace retreat being hosted by Chapter 1’s wife).
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This is one of the great pleasures of history: you can skip days, months, years and go back in time.
Your story doesn’t have to follow a linear path in time, and you can use this to create unscripted gaps between events, or to gently fill in chunks of your story in linear time.
Sometimes it’s fun to jump back in time, like Moriarty did, sometimes it’s fun to go back in time.
This is especially true of historical fiction, such as George R.R. Martin of Westeros, world
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The Castle Keepers, who preserve the history of Westeros, have used Aegon’s Conquest as a touchstone for the last thousand years. Births, deaths, wars and other events are dated in AC (After the Conquest) or BC (Before the Conquest). George R. R. Martin, Fire and Blood (2018), p. 2.
By introducing the dating system used by historians around the world, Martin creates a real history book feel.
The opening chapter gives us a long period, after which a detailed account of individual actions and deeds is given. So there is a good system, from common beginnings to the reduction of fateful and individual events.
How do you start a chapter in a novel so that your readers have a vague idea of what’s to come, but are happy for the events to come into sharp focus?
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King Aegon I Targaryen’s (1 AC-37 AC) long reign was peaceful and prosperous… especially in his final years. But before the Dragon Peace, as his kingdom was then called by the lords of the Castle two years ago, there was the Dragon Wars, the last of which was a brutal and bloody war that took place in Westeros. Martin, Fire and Blood, p. 26.
Martin’s description of the Dragon Wars as a ‘cruel and bloody’ conflict tells readers that history will reveal the dramatic details of the conflict.
When I was born, I didn’t have a name. They call me nafs, they say I will be like my mother and my aunts and thousands of my relatives. Less than a minor god, our strength is so modest that it cannot ensure our immortality. We talk to the fish and flowers we care for, the drops of water from the clouds or the salt of the waves. That is the word, angel, the length and breadth of our future. In our language, not only a goddess, but also a woman. Madeline Miller, Circe (2018), p. 2.
This paragraph gives us some interesting facts about Circe – that she is an angel, and that the meaning of this group is “lesser goddess” with ‘gentle power’.
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Appearance So we get interesting facts about the cultural environment in which Circe was born and the idea that her world has changed in many ways since then.
They said that one of my older brothers would punish me. I’ve never met him, but I hear his name a lot in my family’s horror stories. Prometheus. Miller, Circe, p. 14.
Miller makes us learn what pain is, and what it is for. We quickly learn that he is a mythological figure punished by Prometheus for stealing fire from the Gods.
And I’d see the dancers in blue there on the stone bridge, ’cause that’s the way they used to be when I was young, when the ground of Virginia was red and brick. , although there are other bridges around Goz, but they will connect with it and carry it, because this bridge that enters the turning point through it, a small green hill and towards the valley to a go to the road, and the road is south. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dancing Water (2019), p. 3.
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The haunting image of the mother as a ‘dancer dressed in fairy blue clothes’, and the moment she is tied to the bridge and carried in her arms, is a powerful story opener.
Motivation is strong. Motivation drives the story. Opening a chapter by telling a character’s motivation is a simple and effective way to show what your characters do, what drives them to certain choices.
All my life I wanted to get out. I don’t know about this – all Tasked feel the same way. But apart from them, apart from all the Begiris, I took the road. Coates, Dancing Water, p. 15.
We soon find out about one of the narrator’s deepest desires. The reader at this point realizes what the narrator wants.
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Provide feedback on the first three chapters and your story plan, which you will create with the support of the writing coach.
Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager, and product developer. He holds a BA in English Literature and a PhD in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town. People often quote the famous opening lines of novels. They’re sweet to the ear, with rhythm, intrigue, and portraiture. “The best of times, the worst of times…” “It is a universally accepted fact that one has wealth…
Author, editor, book lover – I have published several children’s books and three crime novels for adults. I edit other people’s stories and poems.
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