A blank notebook, pen, and takeout coffee cup are visible from a facedown perspective. They are resting on a wooden bench.

Whether it’s because NaNoWriMo is coming up or you’re on a tight schedule for the next instalment your new series, now is as good a time as any to start your novel. We’ve compiled some of the best advice on how to start a novel, hook your readers, and keep up the momentum in your writing!

Starting a novel can be intimidating. Thankfully a blank page only needs a few words to fill it, and before you know it, you’ve started writing your next bestseller. The key components to starting successfully can be summed up as:

  • Successful first sentence
  • Scheduling time to write
  • Silencing your inner critic and editor

If you can accomplish these three things, you’re off to a strong start in the world of starting!

Read on for even more tips and advice from previous popular KWL blog posts.

On successful novel starts:

The possible types of openings include these:

  1. It was/It is/This is
  2. Viewpoint on Life
  3. Mid-action
  4. Spoken word or Dialogue
  5. Landscape
  6. Set-up
  7. Let’s meet Jack and Jill
  8. Let’s meet Joe, my friend
  9. I AM
  10. Misleading lines
  11. Alternative media
  12. Screenplay or graphic novel format

“If you are stuck and can’t decide on how to open it, try each of the possible ways to open your story, and then go with the one that has the strongest voice. That’s the way to pull readers into your story.” – Darcy Pattison

On the very first page:

“A successful first page engages the reader, grounds the reader, and makes the reader want to turn the page.” – Chris Manderville

On how to hook your reader:

  1. Foreshadow. Imply that a change is coming.
  2. Raise questions in the reader’s mind. Your first few sentences should cause us to ask questions. What is going on here? How did he get into that situation? Give us enough answers to keep us from getting lost, but keep us guessing.
  3. Start in medias res (in the middle of things). Jump right into the action. Do not start with back story. Assume we know who and what the viewpoint character or narrator is talking about.
  4. Add a hint of spice. Whet our appetites by adding something intriguing, like incongruity, oddity, danger, tension.
  5. Provide context. Hint at the setting and/or the situation so we know what we’re dealing with.
  6. Get the reader to identify with the character and her predicament ASAP. Give us an interesting character in a pickle, and make sure the stakes are high so we’ll feel her pain.

“There’s no one way to write a great hook, but if you remember that the hook is a promise of things to come, you won’t go wrong.” – Paula Berinstein

On silencing your inner critic:

“Begin to recognize the voice of your inner critic as it surfaces. Your only job in building a first draft is to let the writing flow. If a sentence comes into your mind, obey it and write it down. This is the time for freedom and flow. Revision comes later.” – Signe Pike

On finding time to get started using a schedule:

“Don’t worry about rushing it. This is not a race. Enjoy the journey. Scheduling your book is about ensuring you are staying true to yourself, and actually making that progress that you want to make, so that you don’t let years and years go by of saying “I want to write a book someday” without actually making progress.” – Sagan Morrow

Check out these blog posts for more pertinent and promising advice. These authors shared their tips for writing during a difficult time, how to implement new writing habits, and what they did to help their writing succeed.

As always, find what works for you and stick with it! There is no shame in finding it hard to start a novel; everyone must start somewhere. Getting at least one sentence on a page is all any author needs to get going. Hopefully these tips and tricks from other authors and writing coaches will help you reach the starting line!

Do you have any advice on getting those first words down on the page? Share your experience with the KWL community, and connect with others who are looking to start their next novel!

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