How to Write the First Paragraphs of Your Novel

Updated: Sep 9

As a writer, you understand the power of first impressions. When a reader, publisher, or editor opens your book for the first time and starts reading it, it needs to be memorable and strong. That means the first couple of paragraphs of your novel can make or break you. This is why you should think twice before you write those opening lines.

If you’re not sure how to write the first paragraphs of your novel, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best strategies you can use in your novel to ensure it has a winning opening.

1. Introduce a Character

You want to ensure something’s happening in your novel from the very beginning.

It’s always better to be direct and get straight to the point, instead of setting the scene slowly or opening with something static.

Here’s the opening paragraph from Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove:

“Ove is fifty-nine. He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a medium-sized white box at him.”

The opening gives you a hint that the main character is a grumpy old man, and tells you this novel is going to make you laugh.

2. Entice Curiosity

The opening paragraphs of your book should make the readers start wondering and asking questions as they read.

The Dry by Jane Harper uses this strategy to catch the readers’ attention:

“Even those who didn’t darken the door of the church from one Christmas to the next could tell there would be more mourners than seats. A bottleneck of black and grey was already forming at the entrance as Aaron Falk drove up, trailing a cloud of dust and cracked leaves.”

This makes the readers want to ask: