One of the things I've learned during this long journey of writing, is that you need to start your book where the conflict starts - and while it makes sense, it's often hard to implement! Most authors want to start the novel where the story starts. But, honestly, that may not be of much interest to your reader. They don't need to know upfront about a bully at school, an abusive parent, or failed love interests.
In that first chapter it's important that you get your main character into a scene where the conflict is presented, so that the manuscript has continuous forward movement and keeps the reader hooked on the journey.
Here are a couple of examples:
- If your MC is moving: Start the novel on moving day, or even arriving at her new home. Don't have it two weeks before, lamenting the move with her best friend (unless your book takes place during those two weeks!)
- If your MC finds an enchanted object: Get him to that location in the first chapter. We don't need to see the reason he's there, or how he got there. You can add that in as you go.
- If your MC develops a special power: Give us a glimpse in those first few pages. Get us to the scene where she's questioning (whether internally or everyone's watching) what's going on.
By getting us immediately to your source of conflict and growth in the novel, you're cutting out the backstory and hooking in your reader. There's so much to pack into these first few pages, but throwing your MC into the middle of conflict is the best way for your reader to learn all about them (how they handle themselves, their sense of humor, their outlook on life, and more.) Use it as an opportunity to explore your voice and quickly get your story moving!