I finished my latest mystery and felt good that I'd been able to keep it at 90,000 words (my first novel was (until revised) 110,000 words. When I went back to revise my draft I realized I'd started Chapter 1 with my murder vic thinking about a wrong he'd committed against his best friend and, in fact, being alone in a fire tower (where he is murdered by being burned alive), trying to figure out how to make things right.
I like the beginning (it's only one section - about four paragraphs), but I became worried . I'd set up my novel's main conflict in this section, but in this section everything was happening inside my vic's head. No matter how I tried, and oh did I ever try, the story had to shake down with this beginning.
Dana, nobody better object. :-)
Seriously, I've worked that sucker over so many times I can't stand to read it now.
I hope the next novel's beginning isn't this psychologically damaging to me.
Degree of difficulty issue. An action scene, or crime scene, is of course the easy way to go, interior monologue the hard way. But it can be riveting if you got the skilz...
Today's reader decides on a book very quickly. One paragraph maybe or maybe just the title. Chapter One has to be really good. I believe Chapter One has several jobs to do.
1. Grab the reader immediately
2. Introduce the core conflict
3. Introduce the main character (at least by name. Ex: Lt. Theng-a-jeg says, "Call Jones, he's he only one who can solve something like this.)
4. Throw the reader head first into the action.
5. Make you want to read Chapter 2.
I think backstory is better introduced in later chapters.
To answer your question without benefit of reading your chapter. It sounds boring. And that is the greatest sin we, as writers, can commit. We must thrill them to get them to Chapter 2.
My opinion, hope it isn't too harsh.
Agree with #1 and #5
Would agree with #2 if it read "Introduce SOME conflict" because there's such a thing as bridging conflict, which can satisfy the reader until the core conflict is introduced.
#3 would be nice, but it's not essential. Most novels that open with a prologue, for example, don't introduce the main character in it.
And #4 strikes me as the most formulaic of the bunch. How many classic novels would we have to toss out if this rule was a requirement? As for contemporary novels, I could point to a lot of mysteries that open without action. Thrillers generally do open with action, though. Maybe this is a genre issue.