The beginning of a story is crucial. It’s what sets the tone for the entire book. It’s what convinces a reader, agent or editor to keep reading. It’s also how you introduce the characters and the conflict.

Many writers, myself included, often go for the easiest opening. The one that’s most apparent. An obvious place to start.

There’s a rule in romantic fiction that you must start with action. This isn’t always necessary. However, conflict and characters must be introduced in the first chapter.

The goal of the first chapter, indeed the first paragraph, is to hook your reader. Therefore it must be interesting, compelling.

Time: 30-60 minutes

For this exercise you’ll need a work in progress, WIP. The challenge is to write a completely different beginning. One that may seem out of the ordinary and certainly one that you didn’t consider before.

Brainstorm ideas for no more than ten minutes. Really let yourself think out of the box. Don’t be afraid to be absurd, controversial or just plain weird.

Rewrite the first two to three pages of your manuscript. Give it a new beginning. You don’t have to rewrite the entire first chapter, of course you can if you want to.

What you’ll learn.

You’ll learn that by pushing the limits of your imagination and writing a beginning that you wouldn’t have considered appropriate or fitting to your story, you can stretch your ideas. You’ll likely find bits and pieces of your new beginning to use in this story or perhaps you’ll be inspired to start a new book.

Romance agents and publishers are ALWAYS looking for new and unique stories. Explore taking a different path and see where it leads you.

Have fun!