Some tips on chapters

1336595038962386Our last meeting of the Western Maryland Writer’s meetup, we covered the topic of chapters.  We asked the questions “How long is a chapter?” and “How do you know when to end or even to begin another chapter?”

Chapters can be any length. There are not rules in regards to this, although young adult primarily keeps to shortened chapters.

Chapters are often split by scenes or POV (Point of View) of a character.

Chapter length can determine the rhythm and speed of reading. Short chapters for action, but lengthier chapters during the calmer parts of the story.

First chapters are gold. Your first chapter must catch a reader’s attention, show the conflict, have compelling characters, and include all the power of your writing. Why? Because the first chapter is often sent with the cover letter to an agent.

Chapter should start at the start of a scene. Avoid lengthy description or ‘telling’ parts of storytelling at the start of chapters. Start with action or dialog.

Chapter should end with a cliffhanger or resolution. Thrillers and action stories work best with the cliffhanger, but the resolution should wrap up the scene with something for the reader to consider; new information, another character, new setting, or one of the many conflicts concluded.

(Optional) Chapters can be worked as single documents. I prefer to work each chapters as a single document. I then compile the novel into its full length when I’m done. This way I’m working through scenes rather than the monster of a 100,000+ story. I also recommend using Chapter-by-chapter which helps combine the chapters, and work with the single documents if you need to rework the story with find and replace feature. (It works with MS Word).


Some handy links on the topic of chapters:

Dual Duties of Chapter Endings

8 Ways to write a 5-star chapter

Uncle Orson’s Writing Class- on chapters

How To Create Effective Scenes And Chapters In Your Novel

Writer’s Prompt- We have a Blue Moon this month (second full moon of the month). Write about something unique and unusual that doesn’t often happen into a story. Anything goes.

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