Many writers, especially new writers, might encounter “The First Chapter Plight.” It is quite exciting when you fill your cup with coffee, turn on the computer, and sit down at a clean and comfortable desk. But as you start to write, you probably find the task of writing the first line to be an ordeal. You might type one line, delete it, and repeat the process over and over again, and still find the words unsatisfying. It feels like there are so many stories to tell but no way to start.
If that is what you are experiencing, don’t worry. It is normal. When starting a story feels difficult, you can try to start the story off by exploring the emotional relationship between the main characters. There is nothing more touching than an emotional relationship between protagonists. Besides inspiring a writer, they can also touch the hearts of readers.
There are many types of emotional relationships between protagonists. Here, we will focus on four types:
1. Seductive Emotional Relationship
You can arrange for the hero and the heroine to meet at a special place where hormones are running high, such as at a bar, a private club, a presidential suite, etc. These places contrast with the places the hero and the heroine typically frequent. If their everyday activities (such as work or school) are insipid, boring, and unchanging, then these special occasions represent the sexy, luring, and unlimited possibilities that life has to offer.
You can have the hero and heroine meet in one of these special places. They may not know each other’s names, but they should find themselves attracted to or interested in each other. Hormones and feelings of attraction should pull them together. They may have a one-night-stand and then separate soon after, but their fates would be tangled together from this point on, and the readers should be curious to see what happens next.
2. Contractual Type Emotional Relationship
It means creating an interaction between the heroine and the hero based on a contractual relationship. Of course, the couple should both be opposed to contractual marriage in some way, thus excluding the possibility of falling in love right from the start. Or you can arrange for them to agree to enter a contractual marriage voluntarily after a friendly negotiation under particular circumstances and promise not to fall in love with each other. Emotion is a complicated thing, though, and marriages have as many possibilities as kaleidoscopes have potential patterns, so you can design countless romantic scenarios using these circumstances.
For example, in Taming My Special Forces Husband, when Rena learned that she had a contractual fiancé, she was shocked.
“What? My Fiancé?” Rena thought she had heard a joke. “I’ve never had a Fiancé — ”
The man in black turned over the files in his hand. “No, you do have one. Your parents spoke to us before the mission. Your Fiancé, Carlos Wilson, is in America. You have a marriage agreement, and your Fiancé’s family is under the protection of American Special Forces, so we think they are the best option for you right now.”
Rena was still in shock. A Fiancé in America? Could it be that her parents had drafted the contract when she was only five years old?
Come on, isn’t that a joke?
To Rena, the marriage agreement sounded like a joke. She wanted to break it off, but she had to interact with her fiancé — And this is how some stories begin.
3. Misunderstanding Type Emotional Relationship
Usually, stories that occur due to misunderstandings are intriguing. The hero and the heroine do not know each other, but a slight misunderstanding sparks some romance between them. The misunderstanding could involve a tumble, finding the wrong person, walking into the wrong room, or a blundered joke.
For example, in Diving into You, the hero Elliot and the heroine Riley met in a bar. Riley was drunk, and she mistook Elliot as her crush. She not only confessed her love for him but also groped his perfect buttocks.
“Do I know you?” I didn’t move a muscle. This girl was obviously drunk, and the last thing that I needed was some douche with a camera capturing this encounter and sticking it on the Internet.
“Baby, it’s me,” the voice was soft, and I could not deny the slur. Whoever this chick was, she was wasted.
“Darling, I think you have me mixed up with someone else.”
At that time, Elliot did not know that the drunken girl would be an important person to him in his future. Years later, he would be grateful for the misunderstanding that brought Riley to him.
4. Loser Type Emotional Relationship
Who has not met a few fraudulent lovers? Why not begin your story where your protagonist’s last — failed — relationship left off? He or she might have encountered a bad lover, someone who didn’t treasure his or her love. Thus, his or her heart was broken, and he or she stopped believing in love. Then the other protagonist can show up as a “Savior Type.” A successful romantic relationship requires both parties to understand each other. The failed romance can serve as a contrast to show the first protagonist what true love looks like. You can start by designing a failed romance for the protagonist. This design could involve cheating, lying, or even a planned murder.
In Diving into You, the heroine, Riley, was in trouble. She had a crush on Carl in college, but he did not treat her right. He used her, but he was not willing to be her boyfriend. This puzzled Riley. At the beginning of the story, Riley (who was about to graduate from college), was vexed.
When will I see him if we don’t have a class together? — The thought of not seeing him every other day was enough to make my heart beat a little faster in my chest. He had been such a huge part of my life for so long, and I couldn’t even remember a time when he hadn’t been around.
Not that he was my boyfriend.
Although I wanted him to be… Desperately.
Riley was heartbroken, and she was drinking in a club. Soon she would meet her true love, Elliot.
Life consists of emotional relationships of various types. After your character experiences a terrible emotional relationship, arrange for him to meet his true love. You can read the books mentioned above for reference. Try to think of ways to begin writing your story by studying the different ways that other writers have done so. Here are some tips when you use the above types of beginnings.
1. Use dialogues to introduce the conflicts.
2. Use monologue to introduce the background of the story.
3. Introduce the personality and emotions of different characters by telling the story from the points of view of different characters.
Usually, your main characters don’t have to show up in the first chapter all at once. At least one of your main characters should be there, though, and his or her conflict should be an essential part of this chapter. Conflict can arise from being cheated on, being forced into a marriage, or having a misunderstanding with someone. In the first three chapters, the hero and the heroine should show up, and your story type should be clear (Contractual marriage, second chance, mate, fantasy, etc.).
Besides, your main character can be an asshole initially, but he or she should possess certain appeal, sexually or as a part of his personality. As long as the beginning of your story is interesting enough and your characters are attractive enough, the readers will love your story and read it through to the end.
The first chapter is the most difficult one, but it will be the one that will feel like your highest achievement. Don’t be afraid to use these methods in your writing. You will find that the next few chapters are not quite so challenging after you finish writing the first.
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