If you were to ask any professional book editor about the number one rule to follow for the publication of a hit book, they would tell you to focus on the opening pages of your book. If you are writing a romance novel or any other genre, you will want a fantastic opening that will prompt the readers to go on reading and turn the pages.
The thing about the opening pages of your book is that these are extremely critical for the success of your novel. Not only do you need to engage your readers, but you also intrigue them enough to spend their time reading your book.
Also, if you are seeking a literary agent for pitching your work – even then, the opening of your novel is extremely critical. An amazing novel opening can hook the interest of the literary agents and make them request your entire manuscript to take on your project.
There are a certain number of key elements that your novel opening needs to have in order to impress the readers and the literary agent.
Incorporate Conflict in the Opening Pages
The opening of your novel must have some point of conflict. In other words, you need to incorporate an element of tension in the opening chapter of your novel. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be big. For instance, the characters are not required to have some war going on.
A point of conflict doesn’t stand for physical violence between the characters. It can be something as small as the main characters struggling to decide which outfits they want to wear on a specific day. It could, however, also be a grand internal decision that the characters might be making.
For instance, the characters might be moving to a new city or even a country. You get the point – in the novel opening, there needs to be something that the characters are grappling with. Whatever you opt for – whether it is an internal struggle or an external one, you will want to intrigue the readers.
The way you integrate the point of conflict will do two main things for you – it will make the readers get hooked on the novel and keep them interested enough to read the entire novel. The readers will be reading the story to see how the point of conflict works out and how things get resolved in the end.
Secondly, the conflict is crucial for character development as it allows the readers a better insight into how different characters think and what goes on in their minds. Through the conflict, you will establish what is important to the characters and their motivations and fears.
Most of these aspects are incorporated in the initial conflict unfolding in your novel opening.
Incorporate a Strong Driving Force
Another crucial element that your opening chapter should have is strong momentum. This aspect is also directly related to the first point of incorporating a point of conflict in the novel opening. If the initial point of conflict – introduced in the opening chapter – resolves itself and fades out quickly, your readers will ultimately lose interest.
So, you need to continue to push the readers forward so they don’t want to put down the book. Ideally, your readers should read the book from the beginning to the end. You want your readers to develop the sense that they cannot stop turning the pages.
For instance, if you are writing a mystery novel, you might want to incorporate the essence of suspense in a tricky way so that the readers are intrigued to read the entire book – till the very end. However, if you are also writing a romance novel, the element of suspense must be there.
As a newbie writer, you can immensely benefit from the services of freelance romance book editors as they will read your book meticulously and ensure that everything remains attractive to the reader’s hearts. The element of suspense in this regard is just the element that keeps the readers hooked to the book, and they simply cannot put it down.
You might as well refer to this sense of suspense as a sense of urgency that must be present in the first section of the novel as it sets the reader’s expectations. You will have to look at the opening chapters from the reader’s perspective.
Imagine standing in the bookstore and deciding which novel to read for the weekend – how would you decide on a book? Naturally, you will be scrolling through the initial pages and thinking about whether you are ready to commit or not.
If you like what you read in the opening lines, you will be down to buy the entire book, which is why the opening pages of your novel are of the utmost importance. You must ensure that you build momentum and give your readers something to look forward to.
Initially and till the end of the novel, you will give your readers just enough to hang on to so they are compelled to read it until the end.
Portray Intriguing Characters
Many newbie writers mistake spending loads of time on world-building rather than focusing on character development. Instead of spending your time and effort describing the setting of the novel in minute details, you might want to focus on spending time portraying intriguing characters.
You should never sacrifice character development in the opening pages. This is specifically true for writing fiction, such as romance and sci-fi, as most readers read the book to connect with the characters.
Portraying intriguing characters is crucial so the readers can connect instantly with the narrator’s voice. That said, make sure that the opening pages of your novel are character-oriented as much as possible. While world-building is a good strategy to have, you will need to ensure that your characters are really coming through.
Ideally, your novel opening should feature some main characters along with the protagonist. Also, remember that the characters that your readers engage within the opening novel should be there throughout the novel so that your readers don’t feel cheated on.