How to Write: the first chapter

How to Write: the first chapter

It’s day 4 of How to Write and today we are going to discuss that all important first chapter. There is a really great way to know what to put in one and I am going to challenge you to try it. What is this cool new challenge?

READ A CHAPTER

Not just any chapter, now, but one from a book that you think is like the one you want to write. The best way to know what goes in a first chapter is to read some that have already been written. I do not know what you are writing, but I am sure there are books out there like it, because, truly, there is nothing new under the sun. And guys, don’t just READ it, read it, but CONSUME it. Analyze it. Figure out what the author did in writing terms for that chapter and see if you can imitate it. Now, that is not an invitation to plagerize, goodness no. But heck, even carpenters all use the same tools. Writers do, too.

How to write the first chapter is very much like writing the first line and writing the first paragraph. You are unveiling the main character, setting them in their normal world, and introducing an issue that must eventually come to a climax at the end. There are so many varieties of ways to do this that I cannot possibly elucidate them all, but you should definitely try the read a chapter method and see what you come up.

By the way, I have completed the first chapter of this crazy thing I am working on for the blog, but at this time, I do not know how to get it to you to consume. I could record it as a podcast, but I believe that seeing it in text will teach more than listening to it in audio. So, I suppose I am going to have to put up a page for this blog book, and post it there. I will try this method and see how it works. If you have a better idea, please leave me a comment. I am considering this as a “wattpad” sort of story. You are getting first draft stuff here, folks. If you steal this work, you had better find yourself a good editor. (that is not an invitation to pirate my work, either!)

So, what else have I learned during the writing of this first chapter?

Well, introducing a main character and a sub-character has happened, setting has happened, and a sort of tiny corner of the plot has been revealed. Not too shabby, huh?

Here’s the intro to a subcharacter:


Meet Debra, Susan’s sister in law and probably her antagonist.

Debra Whiting waved to her from a window seat. The woman never went anywhere without dripping with diamonds and dressed to the nines. Today was no different.

As the wife of Simon Whiting, owner of a big-time investment corporation, Debra held sway in such a setting. She was known, well-known, by many of the city’s movers and shakers who seemed to think befriending her was the front entrance to getting to her rich husband. Her favorite latest charity seemed to be Susan, however, and she spared no words to show her chagrin at her lack.

I am not sure where I will go with this haughty woman, but I assume she will be a sort of devil about her little brother. This is not a new idea, but it is a fun one. I like to write mean characters just so I can turn them around later to show that they are still human with hearts that will break like any other.

SIDENOTE: I have created a page for this series, and you can find all the former posts linked here. Decided to put them on a page for ease of reading. I will also be putting up links to the chapters soon as well. Whew, my site is bulging.

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Up next…we need to NAME THIS STORY–got any suggestions?

About master

Kim Smith is the author of Disk of Death, The Dread Room, Love Inn, and An Unexpected Performance.

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