7 Great ways to start a story: Begin with the right chapter

6 Great ways to start a story: Begin with the right chapter

Every time I want to write a new book, I search the same words on Google “How to start a story”. It is almost as if I expect an answer that will shock me, that will change my life.

A dark secret that all famous writers know and that maybe, this time, I will be able to grasp. Unfortunately it never happened, at least not yet…

So I just had to sit and think.
About what, you might ask? Well, everything.

I thought about what kind of “beginning” would catch my attention more.

  • When I read a book, what makes me go “oh interesting” and read on?
  • When I watch a film, what stops me from changing the channel?
  • And when a friend tells me a personal story, what makes me pay more attention?

Of course, storytelling is a little different depending on the medium you’re using, but I assure you that answering these questions can’t hurt. They will get you into creative mode. Without even realising it, your mind will be full of new, exciting ways to start your book.

Of course, I have already done the work for you. So, in this article, you’ll find the best way to start a story and immediately immerse the reader in your world. There’s even a little surprise at the end!

How to start a story efficiently

How to begin a story: 7 great ways to start

Surprise the reader

When writing the beginning of a story, the most important thing to remember is that the reader must be hooked. You need to surprise them from the very first line.

How do you do that? Well, think about your story. What happens that changes the character’s life? Is there a way to present it in a surprising way? I’m sure there is. You can use an action, a thought or even a line of dialogue. Just choose a scene that makes sense with the rest of the book.

Hook with the first line

And keep the attention.

We all know how important the cover of a book is. If it’s ugly, your book will probably stay in the library. But if you get past this first challenge, you still have one more obstacle to overcome. The first line. The potential reader will see the words and decide in seconds whether the book is worth the money. I know, I am stressing you. But it’s really THAT important. So plan to shock the reader with the first line.

“Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford.” – The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Less thinking, more action

We writers often love our characters’ minds so much that we want to stay there and never leave. We have whole essays about what we want them to think, the phylosophical phrase we want them to articulate. And of course we can have fun with that throughout the book. But the beginning is a little too crucial to play with.

Honestly, I have read many, many book starts that are just thoughts on thoughts, and they make me yawn.

Sometimes, especially at the beginning of a story, there’s nothing wrong with a little action. If there’s an exciting scene that’s going to happen in the beginning of your book, you don’t have to wait for it or introduce it. Start there, right in the middle.

Write the end before the beginning

When I was explaining this writing tip, I thought it could mean two different things.

1) You can write the end of the book at the beginning. You can only do this if you already know how you want it to end (but you can always edit it later). In the first chapter, you write the end of the book, but in a confusing way. At the end of the book, in the last chapter, you can write something like “Start again to see the end”. Only then, when the reader has all the information, will the beginning make sense. Risky, but if done well, it can be a success.

2) You don’t always know how to start. Especially if you don’t know how you want your story to end. The solution is simple: skip the first chapter. Start at a point of your choosing and write, and write, and write until the end. When you know everything about everyone, you can come back and write a first chapter full of foreshadowing.

Suggested: 8 Mistakes You Must Not Make When Starting Your Book

Start with an interesting dialogue

A dialogue is a great opportunity to introduce two or more characters and let their personalities shine through. To avoid confusion, I recommend not introducing more than three characters at once. Give the reader a little time to get used to the new people, the new place and the new book. If you use dialogue to start a story, remember to keep it interesting and mysterious.


I paused in the doorway of my daughter’s bedroom, startled in that way all parents get when their child says something truly confounding.” – Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

If you use description, it must arouse curiosity

Many books start with a huge block of description, sometimes a whole chapter. And there is nothing wrong with that. If and when it is done well. But if you want to introduce the reader to your story by describing a place, for example, you need to find an intriguing way to do it that creates the right atmosphere.

I recommend this video if you want to improve the way you write descriptions.

“One day I found myself on the edge of a cliff. It was high, rugged and attractive. All the time I kept repeating the same sentence to myself: ‘I’m here for the view, just the view, beautiful hills sinking into the sea’. But the truth became sharper and sharper as my body was forced towards the infinite void.” – Me

Take care of the whole first chapter

Not just the first one. When you start a story, you need to use all your brain power to come up with a great opening line. But it doesn’t stop there.

The reader is on a free trial for the entire first chapter and only you can convince them to subscribe.

So put all your wonderful talent into those first pages. Keep it interesting, keep it mysterious, and don’t forget this: Make them doubt. The reader must be full of questions.
And all you have to do is answer them as you tell your story.

Books to learn how to start a story (and finish it)

How to Write A Book from Start to Finish

How to Write A Book from Start to Finish: A Simple & Concise Beginners Guide

Write Great Beginnings: How to start a novel, hook readers from page one, and avoid common first-chapter problems

Write Great Beginnings: How to start a novel, hook readers from page one
Start Writing Your Book Today: A Step-by-Step Plan to Write Your Nonfiction Book

Start Writing Your Book Today: A Step-by-Step Plan to Write Your Nonfiction Book, From First Draft to Finished Manuscript

Writer´s Workbook: A Personal Planner with Tips, Checklists and Guidelines

Writer´s Workbook: A Personal Planner with Tips, Checklists and Guidelines

This article provides everything you need to start a story, so stop waiting for some magic potion like a do… and get writing. Just pick a path and start. Don’t think about it too much, once you’ve written your book you’ll have all the time in the world to worry about the beginning. And you’ll make it, I assure you.

So have fun! And if you liked this article and found it useful, don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest to keep up to date!

If you liked this article, you may also find the following articles helpful:

The Ultimate Fiction Writing Guide: Routines, Motivation, and Writing Tips

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15 Great Book ideas for writing a book that gets read

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