Knowing how to start a chapter well is key to keeping your reader engaged. These revealed several ways to write strong chapter openings and transitions:. Authors as different as Sir Terry Pratchett and Arundhati Roy show how we can go from a grand to a small scale of reference or vice versa between chapters. We thus move from broad, cosmic world building to the interesting details of a single city. This suggests that intimate ideas such as family dynamics and relationships are hard to pluck out from the larger patterns of history, culture and society.
The two very different examples of second chapter beginnings examples 15 and 25 below show how a change of scale of time or place can juxtapose interesting insights. An emotional situation for a character is a good starting point for a chapter because emotion drives action.
What does a fearful character do to protect themselves? What does an angry character do to right their situation?
We learn more about characters as they react to momentous events in their lives. Or it could offer a different take on a situation shared between characters. This shift in viewpoint between chapters is surprising, even disorienting at first yet the clarity of both narrative voices keeps us engaged.
Each new chapter brings a refreshing shift in perspective. Another common tactic the examples below show regarding how to start a chapter is changing narrative time-frame. He wonders about how different life would have been had she not died young. The start of a chapter is a good point to reveal ificant characterization that will impact the course of the story.
But it can also help to explain further actions. How do you start a new chapter? One interesting approach in some of the examples below is to extend an idea or image from the chapter.
Thus the idea of memory as something movable, capable of being lost like data on a hard drive is extended from one chapter to the next, and from biological to digital ideas. Extending an idea or image from one chapter to the next is a great way to create cohesion. Doerr extends the military imagery of the first chapter propaganda pamphlets raining from the sky, mortars being loaded to the second bombers crossing the Channel by night.
Together, the images create a consistent wartime setting. When you think about how to start a chapter from a characterization standpoint, there are two main options. You could develop an existing characteror you could introduce a new one. Chapter 2 introduces Petal Bear, who later becomes the mother to his children. Thus the character introduction also develops Quoyle, suggesting he finds some sense of direction through this new, winking encounter.
Ursula K. However, Le Guin keeps this trope interesting by making this moment give Ged new insights into the workings of power, as he realizes it will take time to develop. Only then did she realize that she had slept a long time without dying, sobbing in her sleep, and that while she slept, sobbing, she had thought more about Florentino Ariza than about her dead husband.
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Florentino Ariza, on the other hand, had not stopped thinking of her for a single moment since Fermina Daza had rejected him out of hand after a long and troubled love affair fifty-one years, nine months, and four days ago. Context: The sister of the protagonist Iris, Laura, has committed suicide by driving her car off a bridge.
Clair Ave. Context: Morrison moves from describing a tableau in the home of Ruth and Macon dead to a typical Sunday excursion with their daughters. They simply stopped singing and Reba went on paring her toenails, Hagar threaded and unthreaded her hair, and Pilate swayed like a willow over her stirring. Only Magdalene called Lena and First Corinthians were genuinely happy when the big Packard rolled evenly and silently out of the driveway.
Context: year-old Eiji Miyake is searching for a father he has never met and feeling alienated in the city of Tokyo. I want to turn into a nuclear warhead and incinerate this dung-heap city from the surface of the world. Sawing the head off a thunder god with a rusty hacksaw is not easy when you are eleven years old.
Only an island as lackadaisical as this would allow itself to be infested by such troupes of casual and impertinent goats. Context: The protagonist dreams of his late mother in Chapter 1, then thinks back to the time before her death in Chapter 2.
Context: In Chapter 1, we meet Rodion Raskolnikov and learn that he is a penniless student spiraling into increasing withdrawal from society. There was another man in the room who looked somewhat like a retired government clerk. He was sitting apart, now and then sipping from his pot and looking round at the company.
He, too, appeared to be in some agitation. Raskolnikov was not used to crowds, and, as we said before, he avoided society of every sort, more especially of late. It was not until one morning some weeks later that I heard Mariko mention again a woman who had approached her. In those days, returning to the Nakagawa district still provoked in me mixed emotions of sadness and pleasure.
Context: A man burned beyond recognition during the Italian Campaign in World War II and a Canadian nurse are brought together in an Italian monastery serving as a makeshift wartime hospital. She wets her hands and combs water into her hair till it is completely wet.
This cools her and she likes it when she goes outside and the breezes hit her, erasing the thunder.
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The man with the bandaged hands had been in the military hospital in Rome for more than four months when by accident he heard about the burned patient and the nurse, heard her name. Context: A Greek scientist and scholar comes across a 7-year-old Jewish boy hiding in the woods in the time of Nazi Germany and takes him under his wing.
On the island of Zakynthos, Athos — scientist, scholar, middling master of languages — performed his most astounding feat. From out of his trousers he plucked the seven-year-old refugee Jakob Beer. Context: The narrative moves from the spectacle of a tightrope walk between the newly built Twin Towers in to the viewpoint of an Irish priest working in the Bronx in New York.
The watchers below pulled in their breath all at once. The air felt suddenly shared. The man above was a word they seemed to know, though they had not heard it before. One of the many things my brother, Corrigan, and I loved about our mother was that she was a fine musician. Context: A father and son struggle to survive a post-apocalyptic American wasteland.
I want to start a new chapter Pratchett introduces his Discworld fantasy universe, first through the telescopes of astronomers and then at smaller scale. Thus it was that a young cosmochelonian of the Steady Gait faction, testing a new telescope […] was on this eventful evening the first outsider to see the smoke rise hubward from the burning of the oldest city in the world.
Nevertheless, he was the first. Then he set off with his new master through the steep slanting forests of the mountain isle, through the leaves and shadows of bright autumn. Ged had thought that as the prentice of a great mage he would enter at once into the mystery and mastery of power. As a boy he had been oblivious to the existence of this thing called senility until an older cousin had clued him in to it during a family reunion and supplied a brief and in retrospect hilariously imprecise rundown of its symptoms while casting ificant glances at Grandma.
After that, young Richard had overcompensated for his earlier naivete by becoming hypervigilant to its onset in family members of even modest decrepitude. The mother of the family narrates the first chapter and her daughter Leah the second. Clara was nineteen.
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Archibald was forty-seven. But Archie did not pluck Clara Bowden from a vacuum. They do not descend, as was once supposed, from on high, attached to nothing other than wings.
Clara was from somewhere. She had roots. Context: Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters meet in a support group for young cancer patients and survivors. I turned to the car.
Starting a new chapter in your life
Tapped the window. It rolled down. Augustus Waters drove horrifically. Whether stopping or starting, everything happened with a tremendous JOLT. First the backdrop to agitprop leaflets falling from the sky, then a description of bombers moving by night.
On the rooftops of beachfront hotels to the east, and in the gardens behind them, a half-dozen American artillery units drop incendiary rounds into the mouths of mortars.
They cross the Channel at midnight. Context: We see the end of a Thanksgiving dinner in the town of Three Pines, followed by a detective receiving a call to investigate a murder there.
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Clara watched Jane make her way along the winding path through the woods that ed their two homes. Long after Jane had disappeared from view her flashlight could be seen, a bright white light, like Diogenes. Jane was home. Armand Gamache got the call Thanksgiving Sunday just as he was leaving his Montreal apartment. Context: The first section is a collection of fictional newspaper clippings detailing strange sightings.
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Then in the next chapter we learn information about a group of friends. Context: The protagonist Janie sits down with her friend Phoeby to tell her about her experiences growing up and in marriage. Time makes everything old so the kissing, young darkness became a monstropolous old thing while Janie talked. Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone.