- Offer a clear set up for the main characters. You should describe the MC (main character)s’ age, gender, occupation and motivations, goals, desires or wants. Think about when you introduce someone for the first time. What do you say? You probably say something like: “This is my friend Judy. She’s an editor for Book Ramblings. She’s just finished college, but she’s already won two awards. She’d like to write her debut novel actually.”
- Introduce no more than two characters otherwise it feels too crowded and the reader gets confused. Imagine being introduced to five people at the same time. Are you staying with the group or find any chance to leave? On the contrary, if you get to speak to one person at a time, it is much easier to connect.
- Something that will transform the hero’s life must happen in the first chapter, especially in fantasy writing. The discovery will change the hero’s perspective on life. For example, Harry Potter finds out he is a wizard. That will change his entire life.
- Introduce the catalyst, the event that will force the hero to make a decision that will change his life forever. It can be meeting a romantic interest like meeting Edward in Twilight. The hero may discover a secret as in The Secret Garden or Coraline. It may be that something gets in the way as in Ella Enchanted. As long as the catalyst exists, the story can go on.
- Use a strong voice. People are more attracted to the characters than the plot, at least at first. Your hero’s voice should come through like a bang. It must be unique and different from all the other protagonists’ voices.
- Establish the tone. Is it a funny story? Then make it funny from the start. Is it a grave story? Then make it dramatic from the start. Do not change the tone midway through the story and make it obvious from the first line. Is it a mystery story? Then make your hero dream about an adventure or plant tiny unusual remarks or habits in your hero’s speech and behavior.
- The opening line must announce the main problem of the story or raise a question. So, introduce a compelling character in your very first paragraph. Also, introduce a conflict. You opening line if something your promise to deliver. Your first paragraph must be made of short sentences and truly reflect the entire novel.
See examples, at Great Opening Sentences from Classic fantasy Novels: