1. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    Does a chapter have to have...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Gothic Vampire Queen, Jul 9, 2011.

    Does a chapter have to have a conflict and a resolution?

    Also, how would you know if a chapter has no conflict, but is simply just there to fill a page? Can you give some examples?

    I know the two questions are very different, but I don't want to start another thread on it.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    A chapter just has to have some words in it.

    And I suppose some avant garde writer will even give us a chapter without words someday, if they haven't done so already.
     
  3. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    No, not all all, in my opinion. The chapters I like most are the ones where I get a conflict but don't get the resolution, so I'm left with a cliffhanger. Those make me turn the page to the next chapter.
     
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  4. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    It does not have to have both.

    It does have to add something new to the story though like: adding more depth to the characters or plot or adding a twist to part of the story. If it's not doing this then it's worthless.
     
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  5. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like the ones written in binary, right?


    The simplest way to see if a chapter has no conflict? Read it. Really, that's all there is to it. Read it and look for conflict.
     
  6. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    Okay, thank you very much for answering.

    I am re-reading what I have written so far, that's why I posted.
     
  7. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    No, I don't think so, aslong as it is furthering the book along adequately enough then its done its job.
     
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  8. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    I'd hope not. I have some chapters which are just travelling. I dislike writing them because nothing eventful happens but they're necessary.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. Are they absolutely necessary? Are you sure that you couldn't just write, "Next spring, they walked into Whoville muddy, ragged, footsore, and a year older," and thereby skip a do-nothing chapter?

    If you really, really can't translate a do-nothing chapter into a couple of lines of transition, another alternative could be to add one or more subplots so that it's not a do-nothing chapter. If your main plot is a war, and you have a chapter with a group of characters traveling to join the King's army, then you could add an interpersonal-conflict subplot so that something happens in the travel chapter. Or your characters could search for the Famous Blue Rose or the landscape could present clues to some mystery relevant to the plot, or something of that sort.

    ChickenFreak
     
  10. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    They're necessary because the locations are important. As for subplots, I had a few at the start but right now my book is in danger of becoming overlong (it's currently at 84,000 words with a long way to go). They're already rather small-scale in comparison to the events which occur at the locations, but they give my novel a more epic feel. IMO anyway. Come rewrite time I may change a lot.
     
  11. MRD
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    MRD Senior Member

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    Or you could just take this opportunity to build bonds between characters, maybe give the reader a chance to learn more about the characters and story setting/background.

    Just as long as you don't flood a story with these "filler" chapters, you'll be fine. Who knows, once you start writing, you may very well find out something about your characters/story that you didn't know before. Worst comes to worse, you can always just cut that chapter later.
     
  12. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    That's probably because you are writing pointless chapters that don't matter. A whole lot happens in the novel I am currently writing, but it is only 70,000 words.

    It's not the amount of words you use, its the skill in which you use them. No one cares about a narrator droning on and on about nothing. No one will ever read your novel if you write it this way.

    And I don't see why you can't use much less words to describe people travelling if nothing is happening while they travel. If its because you're taking whole chapters to describe the new places they reach, then you are not doing enough showing, you're doing way too much telling (and could express the same thing in a much more interesting manner if you were to use events to describe an area rather than description, also it wouldn't take up any extra words.)

    Not to mention, if your novel is that long, why aren't you dividing it up into different books? Why is it just one?

    I'm just saying because what I've read is that the most common mistake that novice writers make is being overly wordy. You need to make every word count. I've had to work on this myself, which is why my novel shrunk by 20,000 words.

    There should be no filler chapters.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But if nothing happens in those locations, why do they matter? If it's because the characters are coming back, why not detail the location at that point?

    ChickenFreak
     
  14. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    The story, as a whole, needs conflict. A chapter is only part of a story.

    Chapters, divide a story/novel into sections.

    A chapter needs to move the story forward.
     
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  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Katica, both posts.
     
  16. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    They return along the same route, and that's when things happen. I could always hold back descriptions until then, but to me it would seem odd having them pass through somewhere but not describing it until the next time. And when I said nothing eventful I really meant plotwise. There's a fair bit of character stuff in there. I'm sure there's a lot I could cut, if I don't have the chapter planned out fully I tend to sort of follow a trail of thought and write it down. Probably not the best method but I'm learning.

    That's a lot of assumptions about me, but I appreciate the feedback. I don't drone on and I hate being overly descriptive (even though I was critiqued on that in my other piece. This piece is much less wordy, I think). A lot happens in my novel too, but it's mostly at major locations (I realised at one point that about 1/4 of my book is in the one place, and there's not a lot of description in there). I have a second book planned, but for this one I don't see the grand total being much over 100k words. I may have been exaggerating when I said a long way to go, but it always turns out longer than in my mind. Maybe these chapters wont matter, I wont know until I read through the entire thing once I'm done. It's not like I describe every little detail of the journey. There's a lot of "our journey to X was tiring, but uneventful..." and other things along the same lines.

    Then again, maybe I get a little too self indulgent when describing some of the places. There's a lot of very visually distinctive architecture and landscapes and it's just so easy to want to, well, show it off. Thing is, it's often more a part of the world than a part of the story, so it may be best if I ease up on that a little.
     
  17. Spring Gem
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    If your characters' journey takes place in book one, but the significant actions at the locations don't happen until book two or later, then your readers probably won't remember what the locations were like and you'll end up describing them again.

    For your first draft, write it as it comes to you even if it goes longer (or shorter) than you thought it would. When you have a complete full draft, you can better judge what needs deleted, changed, or added.
     
  18. BobLobLaw
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    It's generally accepted that stories have to have conflicts and resolutions. Without it, the book may be boring and uninteresting.

    As for the second question, you don't need to have a conflict every chapter. It's filler if the chapter has nothing that contributes to the main plot.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    Oh, character stuff is important. If you're doing character development and relationships and interpersonal plots, then those aren't "do nothing" chapters after all, IMO. And if it turns out that the character stuff is too thin and shallow to support a chapter, that can always come out in the rewrite. (Though I do agree that the first book needs to stand on its own.)

    I was imagining full chapters of location description and perhaps lofty descriptions of characters sitting upright on their horses with their cloaks rippling behind them. :) _That's_ what I'd suggest be sliced off, but sounds like I had it wrong.

    ChickenFreak
     
  20. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    That's ok. I probably should have worded it better in the first place given how many people told me off.
     
  21. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can we just pretend I'm katica and I said that? No? Well I was going to say it!
     
  22. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    No one was trying to tell you off. We were trying to help you based on the limited information we were given.

    I work my butt off writing my stories, but there will never be an end for the critiques and corrections I will receive for it. Why? Because I can always improve no matter how good I get and that's okay.

    I also compose music on piano and it used to upset me because everyone else would be impressed by the music I came up with, but my teacher would say it was crap. She was the one who helped me the most though. My composition skills improved in ways they otherwise never could have if she hadn't been critical of me. Like with writing stories, she helped me be less predictable and cliche with my compositions.

    I'll put it this way. Even the most calm and collected authors hate to hear criticisms sometimes, but they challenge us to be better authors.

    We, of course, were just going by your words and didn't actually read your stories, so we aren't experts on how they were written.
     
  23. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Completely agreed. That's what makes me want to read a book.
     

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