Alright, so I’ve been researching some folklore and haunting stories for… research purposes (don’t judge), and I came across a few good points that helped me write a few story lines that I could use in one of my books, so I decided to share with you a few tips to write really good chapters for your work as well.
- Prep! Do your research and work.
Chapters can be seen as stories within a story. A roadmap towards a fitting end or in your case, the 3rd act of your main plot. Every chapter should push your character a bit further and drive them into a corner or some form. If the stakes aren’t high enough, the reader won’t bite, and nothing jumps out of a story, unlike a filler that is poorly researched. If you’re writing a vampire story, a quick search will pull up some interesting names such as Strigess (a beast who could separate their upper body in an instant and grow wings, attacking people). Is your hero visiting a village on the way to that mysterious fort that the baddie is residing in? You guessed it, have Strigesses make an appearance.
- Beginning, middle and an end.
Every chapter should have a beginning, a middle and an end. In the same way, the book does, however, the seeds for a great chapter can be planted in the beginning of the story. Complicated? Let’s take do a quick example:
Main plot: Pirate goes out to find the fountain of youth. This plot is explored fully in the book but the sequence goes like this:
Pirate witnesses an execution, and decides to embark on a quest looking for a way to change the world. They are chased off by the authorities because Pirates are cool, and they can’t stand someone to be cool other than them (roll with it).
- Beginning: Pirate witnesses execution.
- Middle: Pirate decides to embark on an adventure to change the world.
- End: Pirate escapes the authorities on a small raft. The world is their oyster!
Pirate meets a historian who is intrigued by them and offers to join the crew under one condition: we try to find the fountain of youth. Because the local authorities have been researching techniques on how to make people immortal, and they don’t want anyone to live forever, so by finding it, they are totally sticking it to them.
Anyways, you get the gest of it.
- A lasting effect.
Ask yourself this: why do people hate fillers? Because they are boring and add no value except waste time. That is why you should avoid writing anything that doesn’t contribute to the bigger picture. A chapter should always add something to the character, whether a new scar, a new comrade or a change in behavior… Give readers something! If all fails, you can always resort to the default: teach them some lore by the end of it. Have the hero be questioned about their identity and at the end of the chapter, they learn their true ancestry.
If you follow these steps, chances are you might get just a bit better at crafting that great chapter of yours. If you have any comments or would like another post like this, be sure to get in touch and let me know! No really, I mean, suggestions on what to cover would definitely help out a bunch.
Until next time,