Sweating and fretting over the beginnings of a novel, getting it right is always tricky

So much rests on those first few lines of a novel, that first paragraph, that first page even. The reader selects the book from the book shop or library shelf, reads the blurb on the back, opens the book and reads the first page.  Even if you are buying on line you might be able to read the first few pages with Amazon's search inside facility.  Are you hooked?  Are you thinking this sounds like my kind of book, or do you replace it on the shelf? 

You might give it the benefit of the doubt and find the novel starts well and then disappoints you.  That's not necessarily because it's badly written, but it's just not your cup of tea. I've done this myself many times.  As a writer I am acutely aware of this and as a writer I sweat and fret over beginnings, as I know many writers do.

The beginning of my novels when published are never the same as those of the first draft.  And I'm conscious when revising of the sound advice given by one author (whose name I forget - apologies for that) that when revising your novel try taking out the first three chapters and starting it with the fourth.  That is often where the action begins. Just as in many a thriller film, it starts with the action, grabbing the audience by the throat, even if that action has nothing to do with the main plot. Usually it is there to show some essential elements of the central character.

In a novel, everything has to be relevant to the storyline, even if some of it is a red herring. But the use of prologues in a thriller novel is a good way of grabbing the reader by the throat. And I admit that is what I have done in my two thrillers, In Cold Daylight and In For The Kill, written in the first person, which also provides a faster pace.
A thriller novel
With the Inspector Andy Horton novels though, written through Andy's eyes in the third person single viewpoint, I haven't used this technique but the action will, of course, always start with Andy and get you into the story - or some element connected with the storyline - from the beginning. 

And if you're not familiar with my crime and thriller novels and want to try out the first chapters, or at least the beginnings to see if they might be to your taste, then they are all on my official web site.  Just click through to the relevant book and you should find a link taking you to the first pages. Meanwhile back to working on the seventh in the Inspector Andy Horton series and I'm well past chapter one, I'm pleased to say.  But will that be the chapter one in the published novel? Ahh, maybe and maybe not.


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