Writing Chapter One – Tips

Discovered this excellent post on first chapter styles today over on D. Wallace Peach’s blog. Happy writing, indeed. I think I fall into the bookending chapter one category this time around. And since my blog posts these days are all about the writing process, I’m happy to share “Writing Chapter One”.

Myths of the Mirror


I’ve wanted to write about first chapters for a while, primarily because they’re so important. After all, they’re the gateway to Chapter 2 and getting a reader to Chapter 2 is a fantastic idea.

I did some research and almost instantly the rule-resistant rebel in me kicked in. She’s the writer who scowls at formulas, who insists that form has to fit the story, not the other way around. She’s the reader who doesn’t want to read the same story over and over with different titles.

Well, I suppressed the first-born smarty-pants part of my personality and learned a few things.

First, I learned that there are actually a number of perfectly legitimate types of first chapters. Writer’s Digest has a great article by Jeff Gerke that describes 4 approaches with examples (summarized here):

  • The Prolog – A prolog is an episode that pertains to your story but does not…

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This entry was posted in Writing.

4 comments on “Writing Chapter One – Tips

  1. Thanks again for sharing, Francis. Now, I’m off to work on my first chapter 🙂

  2. Peter Ralph says:

    Interesting. Before I start a new manuscript I reread the first chapter of Frederick Forsyth’s Avenger. It is the best and most compelling first chapter that I’ve read. If I was in a bookshop and read that chapter I’m definitely buying the book. I don’t plagiarize, but I do try to get the major elements into my prolog or first chapter.

    • Excellent tip, Peter. We can always learn from the experts. There are writers I’ll read even if it takes half the book to hook me. But when it comes to trying out a new author, getting hooked early on is crucial. I’m off to tune up the first chapter of my next book.

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