Girls Write Out
Sunday, January 01, 2012

The opening of a story has many jobs. It should connect the reader with the protagonist, establish setting, set the tone of the story, and pique the reader’s curiosity.

Of all those jobs, the one I enjoy most is piquing the reader’s curiosity. When most beginners are starting out, they tend to pour all the information they know into the first chapter—that was me 15 years ago. This is a sure way to kill your story from the get go.

Instead of dumping out everything you think your readers need to know, dole it out slowly, sprinkling in just enough to make them curious. This is what will keep them reading. If there’s a past event that's causing your protagonist to behave oddly in the first chapter, your reader doesn’t need to know every detail of that event—yet. Hint at it with a line or two here and there, each time giving another clue.  Save the full reveal for later in the book when the reader is invested and dying to know to whole story.

This takes some practice. How much do you hold back? How much do you tell and when? The best way to get a feel for this is to be aware of it when you’re reading others’ books. When your opening is finished, find a critique partner and see if you got it right or if it needs some tweaking. 

Below is first chapter of “The Accidental Bride” which releases on Tuesday (YAY!). See if you can spot the lines that pique your curiosity.

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:39 PM  
  Comments (6)
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At 9:05 AM, Blogger Cyndi said...

What a great first chapter! Definitely hooked me! :)

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Thanks, Cyndi! I think first chapters are fun to write. Challenging, but fun.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger jel said...

HaPPy NeW yEaR ! Girls

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Jackie S. said...

Sounds great; can't wait to read it! Just ordered used copies of your New Heights series....missed them when published, and ladies in church library (where I have placed all your books I've read) are anxious to read other (and all) books by you!!! Happy New Year!

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

You too, Jel! Jackie, thanks for passing my books along!

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

I think it is sad that so much emphasis is put on the first chapter by so many. Much of that has to do with that being one of the first things a literary agent sees. So, I get it, but I've heard of readers skipping the first chapter of books because they know the story doesn't start will chapter two. The more I write novels, the more I'm convinced that though the first chapter and indeed, all the chapters are important it is actually the ending of the book that is the most important. It really isn't that hard to write a good first chapter, but the weight of the whole book rests on the ending.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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