10 Tips for a Better Book Opening

Filed in Writing Tips by on June 29, 2021 0 Comments

Your book opening is the place where readers will decide to keep reading or set aside your book — no pressure. Here are 10 tips for a better book opening ...

The opening of your book is the place where readers will decide to keep reading or set aside your book — no pressure. So, your opening pages need to jump straight into your story without dawdling on about the protagonist’s history or how he/she ended up in the current predicament. The back story is 100% necessary for you, as the writer to know ahead of time. You’ll need to develop all that information before you begin to type the first page of your book. That background work, however, will only slow your readers down and bore them if you drop it all in the first chapter.

To avoid a slow burn at the onset of your book, focus on our ten guiding tips below to help you write a better opening for your book.

10 Better Book Openings

1. Don’t start too early.

Avoid starting your story before the action or conflict begins. This is often part of your back story and should be left out of your opening.

2. Don’t get ahead either.

Start your readers in the sweet spot between too much information and not enough. You want to make sure you bait your readers with just enough information to keep them going and if you jump ahead too far, you’ll skip over your hook.

3. Avoid heavy dialogue.

The last thing a reader wants is to jump straight into a long string of dialogue among characters they know nothing about. Save the dialogue for a page or two in when you’ve already made some introductions.

4. Be sure to introduce your protagonist.

One of the most important aspects of any book opening is to ensure your readers know who the protagonist is as soon as possible. Don’t leave readers wondering who they are supposed to be following throughout the book.

5. Skip the cliches.

If an alarm clock or the start of the day has no thematic qualities in your book, avoid these overdone cliches to start your book. Readers may see it as a lazy way to begin telling your story.

6. Introduce the conflict present in the book.

The sooner you can get to your protagonist’s main conflict the better. The “will she or won’t she” is one of those hooks that will keep your reader interested. If you gloss over or avoid mentioning the conflict in your opening, readers won’t truly know what’s at stake for the protagonist.

7. Make readers aware of the setting.

If your book is set in Savannah, Georgia, don’t leave your readers wondering until chapter two. Introducing the setting and season is almost as important as making sure you introduce your protagonist in the beginning pages.

8. Use a bit of mystery.

Leave breadcrumbs in the opening pages of your book that may not fully make sense to readers until the ending. A little bit of mystery will keep your readers engaged with your story and want to read more.

9. Study short story openings if you’re struggling.

Look to the masters — short story authors – to study how they masterfully craft their openings. With a super-condensed allotted word count for short stories, writers have to get to the point quickly but also hook readers. Apply what you learn to your own opening scenes.

10. Always go back to the beginning after you finish writing the end.

No matter how hard you try to start your book off on the right foot, you should absolutely go back and rework your opening pages once you’ve finished writing your book. You may notice some pretty significant changes you’ll need to make.


Do you enjoy writing the opening pages of a book? If not, here are more helpful tips to start your book off strong. If the middle has you stuck, we recommend Pushing Through the Middle: Reviving Your Fiction Story.

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About the Author ()

Erika Bennett is the Content Manager for Xulon Press. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade and her passion is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands. You can also find her writing on XulonPress.Substack.com.

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