Chloe Confidential: A Chapter One Checklist for Romance Novels

Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake

Breakfast at Chloe’s this morning finds Kim Basinger in a Veronica Lake-do nibbling on toast. Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey are working on their bangers (That would be sausage-links…  Head out of the gutter all you non Brit-speakers, *winks*).

In other words, “L.A. Confidential” is playing in the background while I blog at you this fine Monday morning.

With the dreaded Chapter One of Writhe now all complete and pretty just waiting on a ride to the publishing house, it’s on to Chapters Two and Three today (neither of which should be the bear One was, *fingers crossed and glued together*.

Before I leave One in the dust, I’d like to point out the particulars I got accomplished in those first 6K words.

Now, this is only how Chloe does it. As you should know by now, Chloe is not everyone. Plus, this checklist is specifically for your basic 50K romance novel. All other genres and lengths are treated way differently.

Hope you can pick out something useful. Here we go:

Both the main characters are introduced… With only 50K to work with and romance your main game, you need to get both protagonists out there immediately so the audience can start bonding with them.

The main characters meet… Again, this is a matter of a limited amount of space to do a whole bunch of loving.

Use only one point of view… This may be completely peculiar to me, but with all the introductions being made, I don’t want to add further to the readers’ job by making them adjust to point of view swaps. Besides, this gives the audience time to really connect with one of the protagonists, while leaving some mystery attached to the second (whom they only see through the eyes of Protagonist One). Of course, two points of view can be used, but I’d only make that swap once in the first chapter, and make it a clear one.

Establish the atmosphere… Your characters, no matter how strong, do not exist in a vacuum. The time and the place affects not only the decisions the protagonists will be making in the novel, it will color how the readers react to them. I think a lot of times this is overlooked. I always try to pay particular attention to it.

Offer the readers a taste of what’s to come…  Since excerpts are often from this first chapter, it’s important to hook the reader here. Whether your novel is going to be fiery hot erotica with a dash of romance tossed into the sexual flames, or if you’re aiming for an angst-ridden, epic love story with sex included only as party favors to those who attend, establish that now. Then, give them a taste of it. (My novels always seem to be a 50/50 cocktail of these two styles. So I either give them a taste of both, or let them lay lip to one while promising the second.)

Ok, I believe I have lectured enough for this morning. Ms. Basinger has graciously left me some toast to nibble on, so I will leave you to your day.

Until tonight…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.