Idea? Yes! Characters? Yes! First chapter? Hummm…
The backstories are there, and the idea, and the general structure of the new novel.
Then why oh why is this first chapter so hard to tackle!?
Usually, the first chapter is the fun part for me. With this new story, I don’t seem to be able to make up my mind, or write anything interesting. Which is a big problem when it comes to novel writing.
Time to seek advice!
Disclaimer: No affiliated links here. I am not getting paid for any of this. I just wanna share the writing craft love.
First things first
The first chapter has to be so good, so catchy, so perfect, it becomes this giant daunting task to undertake.
Since I tend usually tend to struggle with the end more then the beginning, I researched the matter, to help clear my mind a little.
My first read helped me right away. In her post »How to Not to Write a first chapter », Paula says it right at the beginning:
»Beware of slow starts, which are tedious, and can occur for various reasons, one of which is the inclusion of too much backstory. »
Light bulb moment there. Ding! My first chapter was, indeed, a huge information dump. I was still writing backstor there.
But was it the only problem with that piece of writing?
The quintessential First Sentence/Chapter hook thing
Well, first sentence wise, it was really blaaah, because descriptive in such a passive way. As Jade Young writes on The educated writer blog : »Typically, good opening lines start with dialogue, action, or a statement. Try each of these out to see which opening line fits your novel best. »
I read that and I thought, well, I know that so why didn’t I do it this time around?
There was nothing to hook the reader at first glance, which is what I learned to do in writing class. First sentence better be good, first page better be awesome, first chapter better be hook-y, or your book is going back on the shelf.
As K.M Weiland puts it in her post about the right story hook: »The hook is not the event that incites the story’s main conflict. But it is the first domino in the line of events that create your story’s seamless narrative weave. In that sense, it is the moment that begins everything. »
That was not happening in my first chapter. Nothing original, strange, captivating. Just two characters going somewhere in a car and looking at an uncommon hill. Yeah, I do not want to buy that book either.
I swear, with this new project, I feel like I forgot all the basics of writing. The idea is great, super fun and thrilling, not so complicated. Still…
Tired writer, I am? Probably, yes. But in times of needs, rest is a luxury one cannot afford. Yours’s truly, especially.
Writing in a »new » genre can prove to be a though cookie
Since it is my first mystery-fantasy novel, I should’ve probably anticipated those problems.
Doesn’t matter how many of those novels I read or how super motivated I am to write a mystery-fantasy novel, I still have problems grasping the depth of the writing rules of the genre.
My writing default to »take that ring to Mordor people », so I have to work at it a bit.
How, where, HOW do I start with this mystery-fantasy novel then?
Although I like the sound of starting with a concerning inner narrative, piece of advice found in this great post by Julianna Berokoff, it would not work in this case. For one thing, I have two main characters, therefore two points of views.
On this aspect, this Six Core questions post by Savannah Gilbo helped a lot. I mean, not writing in a genre in particular, but tackling the questions you need to ask yourself when you are unfamiliar with writing in a specific genre.
On that note, I will get back to it. The breakthrough came, after working at it and brainstorming and working at it a bit more.
Hope this post helped a little. Until next time !