It is becoming clear that writing a cracking opening chapter is something I have yet to master. You have to engage your reader during the first three pages of your novel. Your opening chapter needs to be kick-ass and a killer first line is essential.

My First Line:  “Lisa Grant struggled to open the rain-swollen front door of her Cotswold-stone cottage, leaning into it with her shoulder like a determined prop forward.” 😒

A Killer First Line:  “You better tell nobody but God.”- The Color Purple, Alice Walker 🤩

Alice Walker’s killer first line provides the narrative voice, promises conflict and engages the reader.

My current WIP would, probably, find its niche in Women’s Fiction.  It has evolved over the last three and a half years and I have written at least six opening chapters, but I still haven’t nailed it.  I was under no illusion, I never thought my first crack at writing a novel would be easy.

My current first chapter is just shy of 2000 words and I’ve already been told that I adopt a “pleasingly light and incredibly readable tone in the opening” and that my description of my MC and “the way she sees the world already marks her out as a character the reader will want to invest in.”  But, so far, she is not someone agents and publishers want to invest in.

  • There are no ghostly figures levitating behind a fishnet curtain waiting to scare the shit out of you.
  • It is not an epic historical drama.
  • There is no dead body lying in a pool of blood in the library with a candlestick beside it as Professor Green slips out of the room through a hidden door in the wooden panelling.
  • There are no dragons or mythical creatures to lure you into a fantasy world of Lannister dynasties and there are no Frodo’s, Bilbo’s or Gollums embarking on journey’s to reclaim lonely mountains.

My WIP about forty-year-old women assessing the last twenty years of her life, trying to work out where things went wrong.

My current Chapter One outlines the tenuous relationship my MC has with her narcissist Mother and drops hints about the plans she has to dig herself out of her self-dug rut.

Maybe… it’s just not the best place to start.