That First Chapter
I think I mentioned here before that I’m beginning to plot out a whole new light, sweet Regency romance series. Well, can I just say on the record here that I am super glad that I’m plotting everything out before I even begin writing?
So far I’ve got my eight main characters sorta-kinda figured out (many more details need to be discovered for all of them, but I’ve got a handle on who they are and what their deepest, darkest secret is – which is essential to the premise of the series). And because I generally know who my main characters are, I have an inkling of what each of their books is going to be about. I’ve got archetypes and basic GMC figured out for the heroes and heroines for each book (not all of the books will feature one of the eight women as the heroine, but some relation to them will be one of the protagonists and the woman whose book is it will feature prominently).
But what I’m really working on (and have been going back and forth about) is the beginning of the series. Yup, that first chapter.
The first chapter of the series has to embody the entire series. It has to set up the reader’s expectations. That’s a lot to put on one chapter!
It means that that chapter has to be amazing!
It means that I’m probably going to write that chapter around twelve times before I call it finished, and even then it probably won’t be good enough. Sigh…
For a while this past week, I thought that I’d write a beginning novella that would establish the series. It would explain how the eight women got together and started playing whist, and it would have a love story (because, you know, I’m a romance writer, there’s always a love story).
The problem is that while there’s a lot of laughter and lightness associated with the start of this game of whist, there’s also a lot of tension between the women—ie, the book wouldn’t have been as light as I might have wanted it to be. Also, the love story is one of renewed love. An older couple falling in love again after being apart (by circumstance, not desire) for twenty years. But then I was afraid that the readers would think that all of the following books would have a mature romance and they don’t. The ages of the people who fall in love is generally younger, it just so happens that the first romance is one of renewed love.
So, I’ve gone back to the idea of having the first chapter of the first book explain how the women got together. I’ve also got to introduce the heroine and all eight women. That’s a lot of characters to be introduced in one chapter. Obviously, we’re not going to get a good, detailed picture of each woman, but I’ve got to do the best I can to give at least an idea of who each one is.
This chapter has, basically, got to be good enough to nearly stand on its own introducing the premise of the entire series of eight books, as well as be enticing enough to make the reader want to read on—and not just read the one book, but the entire series! That’s a tall order for one chapter.
But when you think about it, every first chapter of every book, whether it’s the first book in a series, or the last, has to introduce at least one of the main characters, the feel for the entire book, if not the premise, and enthrall the reader enough so that they will want to go on reading.
To go even further, the first page of a book has to keep your reader’s attention long enough to get through the first chapter. The first sentence has to be good enough to make your reader want to read through to the end of the page. So, not to put too much pressure on you (and me) the start of your book has to be fabulous.
Good luck with that! And wish me good luck too because this chapter is going to be a doosey to write!
One more thing: It’s FEBRUARY! Yes, the month of love! So, naturally, I’m participating in a Valentine’s Day promotion. Please check out my book, and all the others and don’t miss your chance to win a Kindle Fire and Amazon gift cards.
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