The beginning of your novel is super important and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Planning out the first few chapters of your novel can be difficult, so I’ve come up with a list of things you should try to avoid. For the most part, pulling from this list will weaken your story. I know there are always exceptions, but I can almost guarantee you many publishers and agents are tired of seeing the same plot devices used over and over again.
So, here are a few ways to automatically weaken your story from the first few sentences:
Start with a long description of your character.
Sure, it helps your readers to have an image of your main character in their minds, BUT you don’t need to put the full description in the first paragraph. There might be a few things you want to mention, but try not to go beyond that until the opportunity presents itself. A full report is not necessary and it will drag your writing down from the beginning. Get creative with how you introduce your character and their appearance. What’s important? What do your readers absolutely need to know? Go with that.
Start with a dream.
I know this does work occasionally, but it happens so often I’m sure most people are sick of it. Starting your novel with a dream is no longer very creative and your readers will just want you to get to the point. However, if you do start with a dream make sure it ties the story together in some way and it’s not just boring story filler.
Start with your character waking up.
This happens so often it’s crazy. It’s alright to begin your novel with something other than your character starting their day. In fact, it’s more exciting when it does. We don’t need to see what they do in the morning or read about them staring at their reflection in the mirror as they get ready for the day. You can start your novel where you want, so do something interesting.
Start with the weather.
Unless your story directly relates to the weather, please try to open your novel with something else. No one really cares about the weather that much, unless it’s some sort of apocalyptic awesome weather, so avoid it where you can.
Start with character emotions/thoughts.
“Where am I?” Amy thought. This is pretty boring. So is, “Amy was sad.” You’re already starting off your novel by telling your readers what your main character is thinking. We want to see it and experience it ourselves. You want to give your readers something to picture. The first sentence of your novel should be exciting and draw your readers in.