#FirstChapterFriday What Makes the First Chapter of a Book Stand Out?

(Video transcript)

There are millions of books in the world so why should anyone read your book over another one? Even if you win someone over with your cover, blurb and title, you’re not in yet. Avid readers have dozens of books on their ‘to be read’ list, so why should yours be the next to be crossed off?

Your first chapter should answer this question. It’s your book’s audition!

At the end of the first chapter, your reader is given a break, at which they make a choice: to either stop reading, or to read chapter two. If the choice is not to read chapter two, then your first chapter has not been effective.

Now that we know why the first chapter needs to be great, we need to find out how to make it great.

In early 2016 I wanted to start a new book, so I picked 5 unread books off my shelf and read the first chapter of each to find the one that most compelled me to read chapter two. And so #FirstChapterFriday was born.

Every Friday I read the first chapter of a book I’ve never read before and make a post about it on Instagram addressing its strengths, weaknesses and overall rating as a first chapter using the tag #FirstChapterFriday. At the end of the month, I talk about that month’s books in more detail on my website.

Since I started #FirstChapterFriday, I’ve learnt a lot of new things about what makes the first chapter great, such as:

  • what is important enough to put in chapter one
  • what isn’t important enough to put in chapter one
  • how far voice and style will get you

So if you’re struggling with what to put in your first chapter, read past #FirstChapterFriday posts, and make sure to follow me on Instagram for weekly first chapter tips.


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