A huge amount is written about first line - and rightly so! However the first bite to a novel is the first chapter. Draw us in with an acute scene of real drama and we'll be with you for the rest of the novel. Sharp writing and crisp characterisation will make us hang on till the very end.
However, great opening chapters are rare - it's tough to lead the reader into 80,000 words, opening the door to unknown characters, setting and conflict, creating a single scene that wraps together enough natural emotion that the new person to the room, the reader, wants to stay and watch till the very end.
Two of our writers have done this especially well.
Ruby Soames with Seven Days to Tell You takes us into a home at night where a woman sleeps alone. We enter the home with an intruder, we are with him as he feels his way in the dark. I won't tell you any more, you can read the early chapters here.
CM Thompson does something similar in What Lies in the Dark as we join a school girl taking the long way home, avoiding bullies, running through woodland... I will give nothing else away, but you can read the early chapters here.
A good first chapter makes selling a novel so much easier because the early part of the book - with its plot, characters and conflict - sells itself.
In an effort to make my job as publisher easier, this is an appeal to all new writers - in the beginning, make us care.