5 things to remember when writing a beginning of a novel

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One of the most important things in relation to writing a book is a strong beginning. Before buying, most people tend to flip through novels and to hook them in, it is absolutely necessary to have a strong start. 

There are 5 things you need to look at. 

1. Character:

In the first paragraph, you must introduce them to your character. State a first name, a last name, anything, just make sure you have a name. once a character is introduced, people feel the need to explore the person. If you read the sentence, ‘Isabelle was leaving for the market,’ it tends to spark the person’s interest because they want to know more about Isabelle, they want to know where she’s going and why. Bonus points if you have an interesting name and give a background for it. Example, Alfred is a British name meaning wise counselor while for a last name for your German character, Adler means eagle. 

5 things to remember when writing a beginning in your novel - Character

This type of opening depends on if your book is a character driven novel amongst other things. 

It’s also important to remember that you can’t put in everything about the character in one single paragraph. It comes across as dull, boring and too much information such as, “Maria was a smart, independent woman, living with her parents Carla and John Earl, with a degree and job. She did not own her house because she paid a lot of money for affording things her life because her parents didn’t really help her apart from giving her food and giving her a bed.  She lived in the small room below the house and…………….” Snore. 

5 things to remember when writing a beginning in your novel - Snore

Pick up key points and always give a little background. Break up the monotony to make it less boring like, ‘Maria Earl was a smart woman, trying to make her way through like any other woman out there. Through intense struggles, her independence shone through and she had fought through restraining expectations, majoring in business. However, her horribly non-progressive town was stuck in the 18th Century and nobody would give her a job which was how she ended up still living in her parent’s attic like basement.’ 

It’s a story not a documentary.  Provide a scenario for your character and build around it.  

If you’re writing about a robbery, for instance, don’t just start with ‘there were blaring red alarms and people rushing around.’ There’ll be plenty of time for description later. 

PUT A CHARACTER THERE.

It’s very, very important. 

‘Hannah was standing in the midst of chaos as people scream in panic all around her. The alarms……..’

 Putting a person to the situation lures readers in because they want to find out why exactly are people screaming, what happened to the alarms, what’s the emergency?

Also avoid describing the setting around the character with adding a he/she/name.  ‘Lawrence looked around in dismay as……..’ or ‘he dove into the freezing cold water just as…..’ 

And then describe what Lawrence thought or what ‘he’ saw underwater when he opened his eyes instead of opening with how the water body looked underwater. 

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2. Area Setting:

A lot of authors also like to begin with a bang and explain what is going on later.  It’s a good strategy to build up a plot. If you begin with something dreary, people won’t be hooked in. 

If you’re not beginning with ‘a gunshot rang over his head as he and his partner dived into the nearest alley’ then you will begin with a description. Is the environment hostile or is the person at ease? Is he/she gloomy, depressed, happy, annoyed, angry, ecstatic? Who is around them? Are they enjoying themselves? Why or why not?

5 things to remember when writing a beginning in your novel - Area Setting

Answer all basic fundamental questions without dragging it out. 

I usually write down what I want it to contain, set a word limit and edit.  

Putting down a limit also forces you to stick with it, so that you start cutting down on unnecessary information. Establishing a limit for a every chapter is a very good thing because you can then control the length of your book or else you’re going to end up with another ‘Order of the Phoenix.’ 

You can’t always cut down on description because you want show, not tell and for that you will need to write a lot more in detail. Another thing you can’t cut out on is character thoughts. Again, putting down a word limit will tell you what too distribute over how many chapters. 

You also need to tap into the overall mood of your story because the way you begin will tell us the theme of your writing. 

3. Introduce:
5 things to remember when writing a beginning in your novel - Introduce

People tend to start with the character’s life, talking about them, their interests, their goals. 

It will not work. 

It’s always different for the writer who will always want to write more about their character and there are some people who like to read about them. But without that character holding any emotional value for the reader just yet, nobody really cares. 

It would be different if it was a third book of a series that had a dedicated reader’s system because they would also have a connection to character. For example, if tomorrow J.K Rowling released a book about the Marauders (I can only wish) there would be a guaranteed lynching for the book because every 1 in 15 people you meet in the world are Potter heads. Think of a character you love and then imagine learning all about that character. Then imagine learning about Isabelle. You wouldn’t care about Isabelle because you don’t know who she is and therefore don’t give a damn.

Instead of spewing random facts about them, just talk about their appearance, name and family. That’s it. If you’re a good writer, everything else the reader wants to know about the character, they will find in the book. Birthdays, home, etc is not your priority in any way or form in a plot-driven or character-driven novel.  

4. Spring of the Plot:
5 things to remember when writing a beginning in your novel - Plot

Another big mistake people make related to description is when they don’t introduce the plot quickly enough. You could have the most incredible storyline, the best plot twist in the world but nobody will reach the interesting bit if there’s too much in the beginning. 

Start with a bang, make it a murder, some crazy life-changing accident, the inciting incident! 

You have to get to your plot within the first 4 chapters otherwise you will lose the interest or the reader. 

This is also related to creating a setting because you will be able to make out the ideal of the novel through the beginning. 

5. Choose your Point-Of-View:
5 things to remember when writing a beginning in your novel - Point of View

Are you doing first person, second person or third person? 

A lot of people make the common mistake of switching between these point-of-views. Don’t fall in the trap. It is very interesting to flit around different characters but it takes skill to do that without coming across as scattered. 

One thing to remember is that you need to single out the protagonist well. Don’t switch around different characters in the same point-of view. If the main character is written in first person, you need to either also write the other point-of-view in first person (basically use the same POV for both) or write it in third person.  

Don’t ever switch a character to break monotony. 

If you need to do that, you’re not writing well enough. 

Usually when writer’s move between characters, its either because it’s necessary to explore each one or building up to a character’s death. 

In Allegiant, the third book of the Divergent series written by Veronica Roth, (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) the point-of-view flits between the two love interests, Tris and Tobias in first person because Tris dies at the end of the book and suddenly switching to Tobias’ point-of-view would have looked odd but was needed to write the grief for after her death and the next book.  

In the Heroes of Olympus series, there are 7 major characters from different parts of the Percy Jackson series coming together. In this case, it’s impossible to play favorites because literally every single one of them has their own fanbase. 

However, keep in mind that there are very successful books that do not switch point-of-view at all. The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series both are first person POV from the protagonists and other characters are looked at through their eyes.

Just a warning, if you write in third person point-of-view, at some point you will end up deepening characters other than the protagonists because you can provide an unbiased description of all them. 

5 things to remember when writing a beginning in your novel - Thank you

I hope you loved reading my article: 5 things to remember when writing a beginning of a novel, I hope it helped everyone. Good luck writing all your books! 

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9 Comments

  1. Anupam May 31, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Beautifully written and lessons in there for every budding and experienced writer.

    Reply
    1. Piaa May 31, 2021 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks it’s my first time writing something that was going to be shared outside of a personal circle I’m glad people like it

      Reply
    2. Jeshal Jaiswal June 1, 2021 at 7:36 pm

      Very well articulated Piaa… super informative and am waiting to read your future literary adventures!!!

      Reply
      1. Piaa June 1, 2021 at 9:32 pm

        Thank you so much! I want to explore different things so I’m writing a few book reviews and about Korean dramas next but there will definitely be more book tips,I hope you like those too.

        Reply
  2. Person you know June 1, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    This was amazing! 😉

    Reply
    1. Piaa June 1, 2021 at 9:33 pm

      Glad you like it!

      Reply
  3. KYRA June 4, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    Wow what a beautiful and meaning article certainly the best you should become famous

    Reply
    1. Piaa June 10, 2021 at 6:52 pm

      I definitely hope so!!

      Reply
  4. Manjari Thanawala June 9, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Piaa very very well written …so many takeaways for the budding writers , keep it going…waiting for more

    Reply

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