affordable ghostwriting services

Hello everyone! When we want to write a book, we are often faced with an important problem: how to start a book? This issue is essential because without a catchy beginning you have as much chance of finding a reader as an ostrich steak in a vegan restaurant.

How to start a book: Act 1?

Excerpt from the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Chris Columbus

To know how to start a book, one of the first things to understand is the structure of the beginning of a novel.

This structure is called Act 1. It consists of 4 stages (dramatic nodes):

  1. the exhibition = presentation of the characters, the world and the issues
  2. the trigger = event which disrupts the balance of the initial world
  3. the call to action = the protagonist is called to resolve the imbalance
  4. the defining moment/the passage in Act 2 = the hero hesitates but ends up accepting and embarks on the adventure

This is the basic structure for creating the beginning of a story. Once you know it, all you have to do is fill in this structure and develop it. I draw your attention to the fact that using a structure does not prevent you from creating original works. The bestseller Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK. Rowling is proof of this.

At the beginning of Harry Potter, we have:

  1.  a young boy martyred by his adoptive parents to whom strange phenomena happen (exhibition)
  2. he is not happy and lives an unpleasant daily routine until the day when a mysterious letter reaches his home…(trigger)
  3. Harry is asked to leave the normal world to join a wizarding school (call to action)
  4. He hesitates (not for long) and joins Hagrid in the magical world

Are you convinced? Alright. So we move on to the next step.

PS: If you are not yet familiar with the structure of the story, I invite you to read this article which summarizes the stages of creating a novel.

How to start a book: the 3 plots?

Photo by David He slop on Unlash

Another essential thing to know when asking the question how to start a book is that there are 3 plots in a story:

  1. an external plot = what happens physically or verbally to the character (fight, argument, marriage, etc.)
  2. an internal plot = what is going on in the character’s head, his psychological and moral problems (egg: should I defend my love or my father? In Corneille’s Le Cid)
  3. a relationship plot = what happens in the character’s relationships (in Jurassic Park 2, this is the moment when Ian Malcom discovers that he should devote himself more to his family and less to his work)

The mechanism to understand with these 3 plots is that they begin in Act 1, continue in Act 2 and are resolved in Act 3 (or at the end of Act 2). They each have an exposition, a trigger, etc.

In short, we apply the structure of Act 1 to the 3 plots.

However, one question remains. How to introduce all this?

How to start a book: the hook?

Photo by Alan Bishop on Unlash

It’s all well and good to say to apply the structure of Act 1 to the 3 plots for the beginning of your novel, but the reader must stay until the end.

A simple method to do this is to generate a teaser. That is to say, start your novel with something that will make the reader want to read more. It could be anything:

  • intriguing (e.g. you begin your novel with a character who is stealthily heading towards a house…)
  • which directly sets the tone/mood of the novel (a description of a man in a raincoat, in pouring rain, with a cold cigarette butt in his mouth. We suspect that we will be in a thriller)

Once this is done, you move directly into the presentation of the characters, the world and its issues (the exposition).

How to start a book: action makes the presentation?

Photo by Elio McLaren on Unlash

Readers generally prefer active characters. Quite simply, because we identify more easily with the character who is acting. Who cares about the character who sits around doing nothing? Person.

As a result, it’s often best to present the characters, locations, and issues of your novel in physical action or dialogue.

Often, authors present several mini-plots over a chapter serving to introduce their characters and give an overview of the places and issues to the reader.

Personally, I’ve always had a lot of trouble starting a novel. However, through research and persistence, I ended up finding an effective method that makes affordable ghostwriting services much easier. I’m sharing this method with you today.

For example, in the book The Path of Shadows by Brent Weeks, a mini-plot is devoted to the character of Azoth. It consists of seeing him crawl to collect coins under a bar. Quickly, we understand that the character is poor and courageous… without the author having to tell us “Azoth is strong and courageous”, which would have been very clumsy (except in a parody).

In summary, description in action is often more dynamic. It will tend to hook the reader more easily. Beyond this aspect, there remains another thing to know to know how to start a book: the distribution of information.

How to start a book: minimum information, maximum pleasure?

The beginning of your novel should serve to introduce your protagonist and set the stakes, but that’s it. We really need to limit the distribution of information to the reader. Keep all the information about the characters’ past as much as possible, don’t go into too much detail about the characters’ allegiances. Just sketch out avenues to explore for later (in Act 2).

For example, you can write:

“From the top of a ledge, Brett looked melancholy at the children playing below. He adjusted his bundle on his shoulders. The rope rubbed his chest painfully. Too bad. He no longer had time to adjust his gear. He didn’t want to leave his father alone with Annie.”

In this example, we suspect that Brett is poor and that his father is a rapist. Is this the truth? This implicit question creates an expectation that encourages the reader to continue reading.

Conversely, if I had written “Brett hurried to prevent his father from raping Annie”, the reader would have had the answer to his question and would have had no reason to continue reading.

In summary, the beginning of your novel just serves to place elements that you will use later. The less you reveal, the more ammunition you will have for the rest of the story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *