[Writer’s Stuff] post!
The introduction for a non fiction work is beyond essential. Without a proper thesis statement, do you even have a completed draft?
Fiction requires a strong opening as well, even if asking for a thesis statement is too much.
What would compare to the thesis statement in fiction is setting the style, genre, type, and place. We expect within the first few lines/paragraphs/pages to know exactly what type of chaos we’re getting ourselves into.
I should be able to tell this is high fantasy or low fantasy or dark fantasy or historical or romance or etc. within the first few lines.
That doesn’t mean your antagonist needs to show up proving things. It doesn’t mean the love interest has to be there (not even for romance).
You need to prove the genre within the first few lines.
There are some level of give and take here. Perhaps this is contemporary high fantasy not urban fantasy. That’s not always easy to tell right off the bat, because they’re close. Or can we say if this is going to be romance or tragedy. Did you know they can start off the exact same way?
You need not only to prove genre and style, but you need a hook. These are expectations in both non fiction and fiction. You need to prove what the book will be about and have a draw to read it. Writing everything can improve other fields of writing.
Unlike with most non fiction work where anything more than seven sentences in the introduction is too much (even for those fifty page thesis papers), fiction can have an introduction that lasts several pages.
By the time that first chapter ends though, we should know for certain what to expect- to an extent- within this story. We’ll have a reason to keep going.
I write fantasy. One of the major weaknesses found in fantasy work is heavy setting. Which can work. Perhaps that setting is the character we want to support. Or it has the hook within it.
Generally though… Heavy setting won’t be either. It will distract and waste precious time and resources for the reader. If it doesn’t hook us in, we’re gonna DNF.
What about this world will draw interest? What about this plot and story will keep us drawn in? That’s where we begin. It doesn’t have to be battle or direct action.
We need something to entice.
The introduction starts the story. Within only a few pages, the reader will either be open to reading more or not. That hook has to happen quickly.
One of the ways that may help is just cut the first chapter. Can you add in any cut details later on? Is there a scene that must happen there? Is there a scene that needs to happen beforehand? What if we cut the first two chapters? Sometimes the real beginning is chapter three. It’s not uncommon. We want to get all this information into the story somewhere and end up adding too much.
The beginning is normally the most rewritten and edited section of a draft. Which should surprise no one. Introductions are important no matter what you are writing. Without a good introduction no one will read the rest.