Beginnings are both the easiest and hardest things to write. Easy because you generally know where the story starts and can write that, the later stuff requires more though and effort. After all, most aborted novels most likely end after the first chapter or two, once you really have to put the effort into build characters and the plot. The hardest because they’re also the most important section, where you have to hook the reader to get them to continue on.
As I’ve read the work of others and think about my own work, I’ve noticed something that I call the thud. The thud works like this, there’s the amazing well written hook that makes you want to dive right into the world and characters… and then you get to chapter 1(with a prologue) or chapter 2, or even just turn the page and THUD! the entire novel stops dead in the water because that chapter is slow as hell because now the main character and world get developed and the requires page after page of exposition or slow moving domestic scenes. I’ve seen this in amateur writers, veteran writers, most everyone, even myself.
The novels that I tend to finish or get much farther in are the ones that don’t have that obvious hook in the first paragraph or two, but hook down the page a little, letting some exposition flow, time pass, and then you’re hooked. Because I’m already submersed, there is no going back. Or if they do have the obvious hook, just don’t stop being interesting. It takes practice and talent, but to me pays off in the end.
It’s better to start slow and ramp up, then start high and quickly come crashing down with a thud.