Pulling Readers Into Your Chapters

There are too many chapters that start with the same thing. Names. Person doing something.

Every time I open up Critique Circle, I’m looking through the list and seeing the first sentence of each story that I could potentially leave feedback for. They all start like this:

  • LUCY and Melinda promenaded onto the dance floor, a high paced song was on and they started doing the Charleston, the latest dance craze.”
  • ” “It’s Mrs. Douglas. She’s in the hospital.” Anita wiped her eyes and whispered. “They don’t know what’s wrong.” “
  • “Released from the hospital on Sunday, seven days after she entered, Betty Jane’s life returned to normal. She was back at work on Tuesday, tired, but glad to see her coworkers.”

To be clear, these aren’t first chapters. This is how people start their second, third, fourth, and every chapter after that.. which is disappointing.

I get excited when I know my chapters are written well. I believe people put their separate chapters on the internet when they know they could do better. Sometimes, I read chapters that talk about what a character felt when something was happening, not what they’re feeling as it’s happening. Look at your fifth chapter. The beginning is like: A few weeks later, everything was back to normal. This happened, and this happened. These are the concepts that hold true to me, which is why it happened. But anyway, now.. ..Memoirs are fun, but done wrong can be boring.

To fix this, ask yourself, are you telling like it’s happening, or like it already happened? (It doesn’t matter if it DID happen in the past. How are you TELLING it?)

Does the chapter start with an immediate thing: how you’re feeling physically or what you’re seeing at that moment? Ex: It was cold on the bus, and the trees flew by the window. New paragraph. I was on a school trip heading to

Always speak in immediacy of what’s happening when starting a chapter.

People aren’t treating their chapters like wonderful, beautiful things. An exception to this is the book’s first chapter. If every chapter was treated like it was the first, the book would be more successful. You know for a fact that your editor might cut a few chapters out and a different chapter might end up as your first anyway, so why not save yourself the trouble? If someone started reading your book from the first paragraph of chapter five, would they continue reading.

Unsuccessful books have too many chapters that start with people doing stuff. One single sentence of a tiny bit of world building would be preferred. Switch it up. If your chapter will eventually describe a beautiful atmosphere, (after you talk about what the people are doing, right?) why not just skip over the people for a paragraph and start with a little hint of what that atmosphere is, if that’s the best part of the chapter. Give us a gripping image to pressure us to read on. You can go in depth on the imagery later.

So, my best advice to give is to pick the most enjoyable paragraph that you wrote in the chapter (it doesn’t have to be the most exciting or involving plot. Describing the forest was the most enjoyable, so make a reference to the forest. Remember, if you’re feeling the writing, the readers are feeling the reading.) Place a common image related to it at the beginning of the chapter. A location or image will do. I’m not saying to use foreshadow or anything like that to predict an outcome. Do that as you please. Finally, ask yourself the questions highlighted above that are related to immediacy. These sort of questions get your brain moving and can get you unstuck in the most stickiest brainfarts.

Thanks for reading,

WritingMime

 

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritingMime

Tumblr: http://writingmime.tumblr.com/

Other Blog: http://writingmime.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

 

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