What do you look for in a “good” chapter one?

Tomorrow marks the first day of Camp Nanowrimo, which means thousands of writers around the globe will start writing “Chapter One” of their brand new, sparkly novels.

Which got me thinking… what makes a good chapter one? What grabs a readers attention? What do you need to read in the chapter to set the tone for the rest of the novel?

For me… I think I look for voice. I need to “like” the main character and more importantly, I need to like the authors writing style. If their writing is overly complex and flowery then I know I’m not going to be get along with the book. I think in a odd way, I also look for a “feeling” that I can recognise. Something I have in common with the character, their values, the setting… something I can associate with otherwise I feel a little lost.

What do you guys look for in chapter one? What keeps you reading into chapter two?

 

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to What do you look for in a “good” chapter one?

  1. embrystical says:

    Not sure. Sometimes a first chapter seems a little flat, so I usually read to about chapter three. That is, in a book with short chapters, like TFIOS or Falling Kingdoms. For longer stuff, though, if the first chapter doesn’t make me think, “I LOVE this character!”, or “OMG, action already?” I’ll usually put the book down. Lots of setting and a lack of apostrophes (they’re/they are, I’m/I am) will put me off, too.

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  2. embrystical says:

    Not sure. Sometimes a first chapter seems a little flat, so I usually read to about chapter three. That is, in a book with short chapters, like TFIOS or Falling Kingdoms. For longer stuff, though, if the first chapter doesn’t make me think, “I LOVE this character!”, or “OMG, action already?” I’ll usually put the book down. Lots of setting and a lack of apostrophes (they’re/they are, I’m/I am) will put me off, too.

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  3. I read recently that the ‘essence’ of your book should be found in the first chapter – people often try to be too mysterious and leave people confused as to what they’re going to read, and therefore lose the reader. It’s fine to set up mysteries, but to be clear and concise and introduce the themes and the problems.

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  4. I read recently that the ‘essence’ of your book should be found in the first chapter – people often try to be too mysterious and leave people confused as to what they’re going to read, and therefore lose the reader. It’s fine to set up mysteries, but to be clear and concise and introduce the themes and the problems.

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  5. barn7777 says:

    I tend to look for stories that start with action–a scene that is either happening now, happened in the past, or is going to happen later in the book. I’m not a big fan of summaries, or formal introductions, where the characters are being described–it usually does not grab my interest to continue with the book. Great topic and helpful in giving me insight as I write my stories!

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  6. barn7777 says:

    I tend to look for stories that start with action–a scene that is either happening now, happened in the past, or is going to happen later in the book. I’m not a big fan of summaries, or formal introductions, where the characters are being described–it usually does not grab my interest to continue with the book. Great topic and helpful in giving me insight as I write my stories!

    Like

  7. Carolyn Page says:

    Jodie, if the main character doesn’t appeal; where’s the appeal…? 😉
    And yet, my man K is a reader extraordinaire. He reads (an interesting book) in a few evenings; others (not so interesting) over many, many evenings. He astounding me recently: He was reading a ‘not so interesting’ book, yet kept reading night after night saying “it must get better”. It didn’t. He was so pleased when at last he read the last page and exclaimed – “I’ve finished.” Since then, two weeks ago, he has read another two books…. He has got to be a bad writer’s dream…!

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  8. Carolyn Page says:

    Jodie, if the main character doesn’t appeal; where’s the appeal…? 😉
    And yet, my man K is a reader extraordinaire. He reads (an interesting book) in a few evenings; others (not so interesting) over many, many evenings. He astounding me recently: He was reading a ‘not so interesting’ book, yet kept reading night after night saying “it must get better”. It didn’t. He was so pleased when at last he read the last page and exclaimed – “I’ve finished.” Since then, two weeks ago, he has read another two books…. He has got to be a bad writer’s dream…!

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  9. Chapter ones for me are all about capturing the imagination. A vague sense of understanding combined with a complete loss for what’s actually happening if that makes any sense haha. My imagination is waiting to be captured, basically just dont want the author to let me down.

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  10. Chapter ones for me are all about capturing the imagination. A vague sense of understanding combined with a complete loss for what’s actually happening if that makes any sense haha. My imagination is waiting to be captured, basically just dont want the author to let me down.

    Like

  11. Michael56j says:

    I agree. I need to identify with the main character in some way; and I like to get inside his way of speaking so that I can do this.

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  12. Michael56j says:

    I agree. I need to identify with the main character in some way; and I like to get inside his way of speaking so that I can do this.

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