How to write a novel beginning that captures readers’ attention?

The importance of an engaging beginning

The first few paragraphs – or, the first few pages – of your novel, play an important role in determining whether the reader will find difficulty in putting the book down for even a minute, or place it on the topmost rack of their bookshelf to choke over dust.

That is exactly how important a novel’s beginning is. The things that persuade a reader to start reading a novel are, usually, reviews, covers and blurbs. However, once a reader does start reading a novel, there is the important question of whether or not they will continue reading it. The beginning of the novel makes the difference a lot of the time. The following paragraphs give a few pointers about beginning a novel.

Be unpredictable

Be unpredictable. Surprise your reader. Invoke their curiosity. If you are able to get them asking what will happen next, you have succeeded in making them turn to the next page. Clichéd beginnings do not work well. Infact, it is not a good idea to use clichéd ideas or phrases anywhere in your novel.

How exactly can you surprise your reader? There are many ways. For instance, you may create a problematic situation for your novel’s protagonist, and you may begin abruptly.

For example, here is a beginning:

Natalia stood riveted. She blinked her eyes once.


No, she realized. It is not here.

Her legs gave way under her as she blacked out.

Avoid tedious paragraphs

Avoid long descriptive paragraphs, overuse of adjectives and adverbs, flowery sentences and unnecessary long details that might prove tedious for your readers. In short, avoid verbosity. This goes for the complete length of your novel, of course.

Be a voracious reader

The better reader you are, the better you are likely to become at novel writing. Be an avid reader and observe how different writers begin their novels.

Decide which novel beginnings you like in particular, and analyze them to see what is in them that makes you want to read further. If there are any novel beginnings that did not succeed in capturing your attention, what were their flaws?

Once you start writing your novel, let others read its beginning to get feedback.You might want to write different beginnings of your novel and ask for opinion on each before you finalize one of them.

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