Inside the mind of a fantasy writer

Writing Tips: Session 1

writing tips copy

Subject:  When to start a chapter.

Lesson:  You should always start a new chapter whenever there is a change in the action, location or time.

…………Starting Lecture…………

I’m not a fan of ****** within a chapter to separate the action instead of starting a new chapter.  I would suggest only using this if your chapter is super short and needs a second half to beef it up.  If that’s not the case and the chapter you’re on is more than half a page, start a new chapter.

If there is a huge change in the subject matter, many hours pass or a new day dawns it’s a good idea to start one as well.  Use common sense, start a new chapter whenever you feel you need one because most likely you do.  It’s easier on the reader to adjust to a new setting, time of day, etc, when starting a new chapter.

It’s a fresh start.  Don’t weigh them down or confuse them when you jump from one place to the next sporadically-be fluid, consistent and clear.  Don’t worry about how many chapters your story has or doesn’t, add as many chapters as needed.  Some stories have lots and some have only a few.  It all depends on the length of action scenes and of how long a character(s) stay in a setting.

I’ve seen a lot of instances where writers’ characters will suddenly be in one place then quickly switch to the next day or a new location.  Nope-don’t do it! It’s super confusing so start a new chapter!  It’s makes a huge difference!

There are some exceptions to the rule but you have to be able to mesh your time/location change very well to pull it off.  For veteran writers this may be a breeze but when first starting out be safe and start a new chapter.

Examples:

1.)  Two female characters are in a coffee shop talking about how Tim is a jerk and about how he slept with Stacy’s sister.  The conversation goes on for a page or two then the two women go about their way.   You then change the action to follow Stacy, who is at Tim’s work fighting with him in front of his boss.  End the chapter between those two locations.  Don’t just jump into the situation with Stacy and Tim.  It’s too much of a big leap.  Start a new chapter!

2.)  Your main character is work, daydreaming about that sexy firefighter who saved her last night.  She can’t concentrate and you go on describing her vivid fantasy with him, etc.  Then her boss comes in and brings her back to reality.  She gathers herself and goes back to work.  (End chapter-start a new one)  Stacy is now at home the next morning drinking her coffee and reading the story about her firefighter saving her from an apartment building.

Questions for the teacher?

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8 responses

  1. TheOthers1

    Lol. I write a lot of short stories so starting a new chapter doesn’t make sense because there isn’t enough going on to warrant chapter separation.

    January 26, 2013 at 11:46 am

    • True-but you’re a vetern writer so you know how to make your transitions smooth 😉

      January 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm

  2. Great suggestions. Also I like your new banner. 🙂

    January 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    • Thanks 😀

      January 26, 2013 at 3:23 pm

  3. I think readers prefer shorter chapters too – and I prefer to write them, so I can have a hook at the end of each one, and therefore my readers want to immediately go to the next chapter.

    January 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    • I totally agree on all your points. I was going to do a post in the future on the importance of ending your chapter in that way. Thanks for leaving your comment 🙂

      January 26, 2013 at 9:10 pm

  4. These never bother me, if anything they help me see the switch between characters… But as a time leap, I agree..

    Wicked Banner page banner, when did you upgrade?? Also like the topic banner… But that’s a guy thing…

    January 31, 2013 at 8:34 am

    • I just upgraded recently. I decided to blog a little bit more and wanted to make it more personal. I’m glad you like the wicked new look! I love it too 🙂

      January 31, 2013 at 9:24 am

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