The Importance of the First Paragraph

I recently read an extremely valuable article, which categorized three specific items that must be present in the very first paragraph of any novel.

  1.  The protagonist–the person with whom you want readers to identify, and whose point of view is featured in most parts of the book. 
  2. The incident that triggers the events that take place in the story. It is not a good idea to start a novel with a passive scene. Readers are far  more likely to want to read on if something exciting is happening, especially if it creates questions.
  3. A hint at the protagonist’s core need. There is a very good reason for this. It gives the author a framework to work around, and that core need must be fulfilled in some way or another for the story to be successful.
I don’t know if I can put all of that into one paragraph, but I am definitely going to strive to get it into the first page.

7 thoughts on “The Importance of the First Paragraph

  1. Very true. I've read some books that started out very dry and not catching my attention. I'm about to close the book by chapter 5 when things start to pick up. That is a definite “NO NO NO”. Was it you or someone else in the LinkedIn group that said the 1st three pages besides the first paragraph is the most important to the beginning of a story? I also believe there has to be a nice flow w/tension etc. to keep the readers attention.

  2. @ Trish – Thank you for this brief outline in “The importance of the first paragraph.” A “hook” is always useful to make sure once somebody picks up a book, they do not put it down.

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