1. hughesj

    hughesj New Member

    Jul 17, 2013
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    What do you aim to do within a chapter?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by hughesj, Jun 22, 2014.

    Hi all,

    I am currently working on a project with a friend similar to John Green and David Levithan's Will Grayson, Will Grayson that requires a lot of planning. One of the things we are doing is outlining in simple terms what is going to happen in each chapter for each of our MCs. This has lead me to think a lot about what needs to be achieved within a chapter, since the story is going to be switching between plotlines a lot.

    Having recently read the first two books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I am quite familiar with this idea of switching Point of View each chapter, and what Martin does with this format, but I wanted to know your thoughts. Do you think Martin approaches this in the right way, or would you do it differently? What do you aim to convey to the reader in a chapter?

    Happy Writing,

    P.S Are any of you doing Camp NaNoWriMo?
  2. Amanda_Geisler

    Amanda_Geisler Member Reviewer

    Jun 18, 2014
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    Most of the time when I am writing I don't think about what's in it so much, but I notice that all of my chapters have a small climax of their own, or it will end in a climax. When I really think about it, I look at chapters at a small story that has contributed some information to the story as a whole, some contribute a lot some only a little, it depends on the type of chapter.

    Now I don't know much about novels with different POVs I just know that I get confused when they switch POV without any warning and that I won't even attempt to write one of these crazy novels. But from what I have read you are ultimately writing several stories in the one book, depending on how many POVs you've got. What you will have in your chapters comes down to whether the POV's are completely separate a come together later or if they are just two (or more) sides of the same storyline. If it is the first scenario you technically are writing several stories until they come together.

    And I have gone way off the original topic now.
    I hope at least something in my post helps
  3. Chesster

    Chesster New Member

    Nov 9, 2012
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    Midlands UK
    I tend not to over plan my chapters, because they can come across very linear and rigid in a sense. I like to look at them as small stories within a story, or pieces to a jigsaw puzzle.

    As a reader, one of my favourite things, and which really makes me turn pages frantically, is when the author dangles a carrot and throws in a complication, or an answer to a question asked earlier on in the story at the end of a chapter, highlighted above by Amanda, as a kind of climax. In doing this, the author has stimulated the reader enough to want more. So what I would say, (and my post is mainly aimed at the opposite side from a readers point of view) is a person has maybe read your blurb and it has enticed them enough to tuck into chapter 1. There is a hunger there. As the writer, we need to feed that hunger, but not to the extent that each chapter is bursting at the seams with far too much information to swallow and process.
  4. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Alive in the Superunknown

    Jun 28, 2012
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    They need to move the story forward. Most of the time the motion is obvious, and sometimes it isn't. I don't like putting small resolutions at the end of chapters very often. I'd rather the reader dig right into the next chapter to find out more -- but every so often it's nice to has an arrival-point where the reader is made aware that something has changed.
  5. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    My novels are written in first person POV, and I don't switch to another POV when telling the story, so switching each chapter as a tool to advance the story isn't one that I can use.

    But I think that advancing the story, be it one or more plot points, revealing something to the characters (and thus the reader), the readers learning something about the world, the characters, the struggle, etc. This is important for sections (or scenes) within chapters as well as chapters as a whole.

    One trap I think writers can fall into is that they've created something really neat, or interesting, and they want to be sure the reader encounters it. Maybe it's a bit of dialogue or a character or an event. But if it doesn't fit with the flow of the story and advance it, then save it for another time or place. Easy to say but hard to do, but in most cases, the right thing to do.
  6. Carthonn

    Carthonn Active Member

    Aug 13, 2008
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    I usually have a specific purpose for each chapter and it's not to say that can't change. One of my first chapters of a story I'm working on introduces two characters, has those characters meet for the first time and then reveals their first conflict. Some people may break each of those into separate chapters.

    In another one of my stories I have a character crashing on a planet and describe his initial exploration of the area. The final reveal is his name and his purpose for crashing on the planet. Some might spend a lot of time of what caused the character crash but I didn't see that as important at this time.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I plan to outline the entire story and then decide when I'm finished where I will break up the story. I do not want to paint myself into a corner.
  7. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I have loose plans. If they're not down on paper, they're usually putting up signs or arrows in my imagination - this way, this way. For me it all depends on the chapter. Chapters at the front or middle of the book are different from ones near the end of the novel. But usually it's all about sparking an idea and or problem and seeing how it goes. Sometimes the goal is not to solve the problem within the chapter but to show a snag that ignites another set of problems or merely to delay the problem in order to show character.

    There's a book I love called The Little Girl who Lived down The Lane ( it's also the basis for the Jodie Foster movie ) In the first
    Chapter the writer starts with the idea that the little girl is trying to pretend her father is at home ( why? the reader doesn't have a clue considering it's her birthday ) and she is also trying to keep at bay an unwanted guest. By the end of the chapter she has failed when he pushes his way in. The little girl gets rid of him by the end of the second chapter but just barely. It shows her precociousness but also her vulnerability.

    When I was working on my Nanowrite project I would separate chapters by information and scenes. When there was a major scene change or a major change in the character or information - time for a new chapter.
    Thumpalumpacus likes this.
  8. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    My chapters are divided by scenes rather than purpose, though one or more things in the scene need to move the story forward. Some end with cliff hangers and some with resolutions but I've not planned these steps out.

    There is more than one way to divide a book into chapters. In my case I chose chapter divisions as a convenient way to time jump: The night ends, new chapter: it's the next day. There are a couple chapters where only an hour or so is skipped and with those I've used '#' to obtain a mid-chapter division.

    By using chapters as segments of time it also allows me to insert story flashbacks without losing the flow of the story.

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