Your first chapter needs to be the ultimate hook! Something that will encaptivate publishers, agents, and readers (no pressure). But don’t worry, that’s why you’re here…read on to discover the writers chapter one checklist.
Disclaimer: Everyone’s books are different so every first chapter will be. There is no perfect formula to a first chapter but there are key elements.
Introduce the protagonist.
First things first, we need to know the main character. We don’t need to know descriptive details just yet but enough to know a little bit about them. And don’t forget…for every great protagonist comes a great antagonist.
Establish a point of view.
What is your story’s point of view? Will you be writing in third person limited, third person omniscient, first person or another POV? Pick one and stick to it!
Set the genre.
From the first chapter the reader should truly understand what genre they are reading. Is it a romance, science fiction, thriller and so forth?
Introduce the conflict.
What is going to keep the reader engaged? Why are they reading this story? Introducing the conflict in the first chapter gives the reader something to look forward to and makes them continue to chapter two.
Don’t overwhelm the reader.
Try not to throw in too much information in the first chapter. They still have a whole book to read after all! So limit the characters and places you mention in the first chapter.
And as always..have fun! This is your novel and there’s no right way to write a first chapter, just helpful tips! And if you have any worth sharing let us know!
I was recently watching Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitts Creek Farewell on Netflix, and I strongly recommend it to any fans out there, but they made a lot of really great points in terms of character development.
No one knows better than authors and writers how important a good backstory is. And for a show like Schitts Creek, from the first episode until the last, you are still learning new things about the characters and I think that is what made it so addicting and real. In the documentary they discuss how they worked on the backstory for weeks before they started filming because they didn’t want to move on until they knew exactly who these characters really were.
As writers and authors I encourage you to do that with your work. List out your characters attributes and their individual backstories to fully understand who they are, perhaps before you even start writing. As readers we want to consume an emotional investment on the characters, and in order to do that we need more than x, y, and z! We need to fill in the cracks!
Think about it as if you were casting your own show for your book. How would the character portray themselves in a room, what would they wear, and how would they talk? All of these things play such an important role in a reader’s mind.
And as always have fun in creating them! They are a piece of your own imagination afterall!
I don’t know about you but when I’m excited about anything I put my whole self into doing it. Almost to a point of obsession, I devote myself to that task. For example, bullet journaling. I told myself that I wanted to bullet journal so I made sure I had the perfect one and the prettiest markers and I was going to bullet journal every day!
It was something that I knew would make me happy and I was excited to start my day journaling. You need to find that goal. Something where you wake up and that is the first thing you want to try and accomplish for the day. It could be working out, listening to 30 minutes of an audiobook, or jotting down new book ideas. Basically anything that won’t give you the mentality of ‘oh, I’ll just do it later.”
Your goals are waiting to be reached! And we want to help you get there! Follow us for more Monday motivation on here, Instagram and Facebook!
Having confidence as a writer lets you express yourself freely. However, to do so you need confidence in yourself and in your writing! Do you worry that your writing isn’t good enough? Well you are not alone, and we have compiled some ways to lift your writing confidence:
Practice Writing Regularly
Writing is just like any other skill or hobby, and practicing regularly will help you improve.
You are probably already an avid reader, but try reading something out of your norm. Pick up a new magazine, blog, or a genre out of your comfort zone. You will learn new techniques and find out what resonates with you.
Learn About Writing
In order to perfect your craft and build confidence you need to learn the in’s and out’s of writing. Specify the writing you want to go into, creative writing, blogging, memoirs and learn more about it! The more you learn the more you know!
Ask For Feedback
Asking a fellow writing friend for feedback is a great way to help improve your writing. I know it can be daunting getting your work critiqued, but once you edit based on the feedback you will have more confidence in it!
Submit Your Publication
This one can also be pretty daunting, but if you submit your work to a blog and they post it that is a big confidence boost! Follow the tips above and make it as good as you can before sending it in. You can also enter competitions to get your writing and name out there. There are so many outlets to explore and that is another reason why you not only have to learn about writing, but the writing world as well. It will be easier to navigate once you build yourself a map.
Our number one tip for all writers is…to write! Who would have thought! But in all seriousness the best thing for you to do is write no matter what. You are not being judged, and nothing is a bad idea. It is simply the best way to spread your ideas on the page and rummage through your own mind. And remember flow is flow!
Do you want something suspenseful, but not too scary? A mystery that’s not murder-filled and gory? Something that you can read or listen to but not freak yourself out over? Then, let me welcome you into the world of cozy mystery books.
A place where all of these things are true. Where you can enjoy the simple pleasures of a mystery book without the nightmares and astray thoughts.
Elements of a cozy mystery
Upstanding citizen (potentially no formal investigation experience).
Jobs that entail frequent conversation with people in the town.
They are naturally curious.
The key role for them is why they are involved in the mystery.
Typically set in small towns or communities.
Small enough where everyone knows each other’s dirty laundry.
Cozy mysteries are meant to be “light”, meaning they do not typically involve gorey graphic details.
Poison is a popular form of bloodless death among these types of books.
Motive for the murder is typically from human emotion: greed, heartbreak, pride, humiliation etc.
Now that you have some of the staples that go into writing a cozy mystery, go ahead and can write one for yourself! Oh, and don’t forget to add some quirky characters! The protagonist would be nothing without a supporting character.
Here are some cozy mysteries we had the pleasure of turning into audiobooks! Browse for your favorite and enjoy! Happy Spooktober!
The Anti-Hero We are living in a time where escaping the confines of our home is what we want to do more than anything. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc. can only provide so much entertainment. The plots become predictable, the characters lose their shine…yada, yada. You know the drill. My favorite stories, both on the screen and between the pages, are the ones following the “most loved” character wrestle their moral high ground, and ultimately fail. These characters feel real. I feel like I know them, have met them in my day-to-day life. Truth is: I probably have and so have you. Instead of listing off characters you can base your own character off of, how about we talk about making your character unique to you?
BACKSTORY IS VITAL Backstory to characters who strive for the ultimate good makes sense. But what about the characters who are angry? Or who are evil? Do not forget one of the more important things in writing: evil can be created. Explore that. Whatever was done to this character can introduce so many more things about them, such as personality traits, nervous ticks, complex behaviors, and beliefs. Your reader doesn’t need to know this information right away, too. Write it out on a new document on your computer and in your notebook before you begin your tale. Uncovering the backstory as the story progresses is the best part about the antihero.
ANGRY OR NOT; THE OUTCOME OF THEIR ACTIONS ARE… Good! For them, at least. It’s a satisfaction for them to do the things they do, because they feel it’s right. They may hurt some people along the way, mentally or physically, but they have a goal in mind. This character could be ruthless. This is what sets them apart from your regular hero. It’s also what sets them apart from being a total villain. They don’t want good for everyone, they want good for them. Which, once their background seeps into the story, sympathy will be created for them by the reader (if they have heart, that is.)
REDEEMING QUALITIES BUILD SYMPATHY Okay, so what if the character in question likes to kill people. Simply because they like to do that doesn’t mean they don’t have a soft spot for Grandma or Grandpa who raised them through their chaotic upbringing. They’ll always make it home for dinner every night, so they don’t upset them. See that? That’s a redeeming quality. Piling up the negative can be emotionally exhausting. Not everyone is as terrible as that. I can think of a few, but we won’t go there. Overall, if the character has a laundry list of negative qualities and zero good ones and they still win in the end, that’s going to be one upsetting story and you’re going to have a laundry list of unhappy readers. Give them traits to make them likable. You’ll have your readers’ hearts in your hands.
YOUR ANTIHERO IS HUMAN (OR CLOSE TO IT) Point is, we are flawed. You and me. Your antihero should be too. Lean towards realism. They have their own moral code, their own inner conflict, and they will always face difficult decisions to meet their end goal. Don’t we all? That’s what makes us each unique in our own personal journey so why not give that to your antihero as well. We aren’t all terrible…right?
So, get to it! We’re done here. Nothing more, nothing less. Antiheroes are far more fun than regular heroes. It’s nice to see a good two-shoes every once in awhile, but I like characters who commit heinous acts (to a certain degree!) and have purpose to their wrongdoings. Who are some of your favorite antiheroes in the literary world? My all-time favorite will always be Dexter Morgan. Not because of Michael C. Hall’s adaptation (although, major plus, albeit), but because of Jeff Lindsay’s creation of him. A serial killer with conscience? Absolutely brilliant.
Everyone loves a hero! You can find yours right in the comfort of your mind!
If a hero is what you are looking for, take them on a hero’s journey. Where they embark on a transformational adventure that they may not have seen coming. If you create a hero worth following, people will want to hear about it! Study your favorite heroes and follow them along on their journey. Build inspiration from them. Are they heroes that you would follow? Soon enough you will create your own!
Both equally loathed and loved, the alpha male brings forth a presence of being a beast and sexy at the same time. If you have decided you want this sort of presence in your novel, we are here to give you some of the best tips possible to make your alpha male stand out!
First things first, if you want your readers to believe it you have to believe it first! If you don’t believe it, no one will. If you feel as though your alpha keeps turning into a funny beta, don’t try and convince otherwise. Make sure that your characters truly belong and fit the theme of your novel.
An alpha has to be devilishly handsome. There’s no way around it. He can’t just be your Average Joe- he is an alpha! The cream of the crop. Highest on the ladder, if you will. Now, there is no man without his flaws, so he doesn’t have to be perfect (in fact he probably shouldn’t be), but the flaws need to pull the heroine in. Does he have a scar from his bad boy days? Is she curious about how he got that scar? And so forth. Your alpha needs to make the heroine -and your reader- weak in the knees. Have fun with it!
An alpha is still a person (duh) so try to not make him a cardboard cut out of a macho man who is nothing but an a-hole. Make his personality traits, history, and opinions shine through. Most alpha male that you read about can certainly come across in this way, but what stops him from turning into the stereotype is motivation. He needs to see something in the heroine he has never seen/felt before.
Some more core things about alphas..
Alphas are leaders/protectors, they will always take charge of the situation. They are the type of guy that will embrace the heroine in his arms and push a kiss onto her lips- they aren’t afraid to show their interest or make the first move. At times they might not be your favorite character, but they will always try and do what they think is right.
They also aren’t shy about sharing their opinions, especially when in disagreement.
At heart they are good guys, but they will never talk about their feelings.
Write the hero you want! Make him strong with at least one weakness. Make him vulnerable, or too tough to handle. The possibilities are endless! To help you with some ideas for alpha males here are some books from our very own authors! These books will definitely make you hot, hot, hot!
Here you will find some tips, some advice and other stuff to hopefully help you in writing your friends to lovers romance!
Don’t forget the roots! It’s a friends to lovers romance after all, so try and make the friendship a big part of the story. The friendship is the upclimb where the conflict and tension builds, so don’t ignore the friendship aspect. Find a way to establish a friendship that is unique. Avoid ‘love at first sight’ and try to create a different kind of connection. Do they have a routine they follow when they are together? Did it start off as playful banter or jokes turned compassion?
Awkward is okay. Let’s face it, how can anyone go from being friends to lovers without there being a little awkwardness in between. But, it is up to you to choose the kind of awkward. Whether it be cute, sexy ,or comedic depends on how you built the characters.
Make the reader care. Off the bat the reader doesn’t want to already think everything will work out between the two characters. Hint at the beginning the connection between the characters, but don’t give them a full on romance from the start. Trust your reader to pick up on the little things, and let there be some doubt- a risk involved where the two characters might not be able to work it out.
These are just a few tips and some helpful advice to get the ball rolling on your friends to lovers romance. Please share any additional tips you may have! And check out some of our authors’ very own friends to lovers novels to give you some inspiration!