Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen reports:
"There isn’t one secret to knowing how to write a chapter of a book – there are many! Here’s what authors need to know about writing chapters – because writing a book is more than putting words to the page. Writing a book is about organizing your words into a compelling and interesting series of chapters. Each chapter in a book has to further the plot and keep the reader hooked...If you want readers to buy your books, you must make sure your chapters do what they’re supposed to do...You find yourself wondering, 'How am I supposed to organize all of this content?' If you stick with these simple methods for writing chapters, you’ll increase the chances [your] book will be read — and enjoyed...To write chapters that readers can’t put down, start with a compelling hook or opening sentence. First sentences vary in their attempts to interest readers in the paragraph, page, chapter and book. Some first lines use description to build tension from line one. The phrase, 'It was a dark and stormy night' from Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton is only part of a first line so memorable it helped define the Gothic genre. Now, it’s a jokey way of indicating someone is using too much purple prose. Even so, the full sentence sets a scene hinting at turmoil and violence...[T]he sentence catches...your attention. In other books, first lines get right to the point, drawing the reader in with a (hopefully) intriguing thought. The first line of Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man is simply 'I am an invisible man.' When you’re writing a book, never underestimate the importance of hooking your readers when you’re writing even the shortest chapters...Most books these days have chapter breaks every twelve to eighteen pages. That’s long enough to encompass one or two scenes, but not so long that the reader feels like the next chapter is going to take forever to read. Knowing how to organize a novel and write a chapter isn’t just about providing timely breaks from the material, but to also keep readers reading. If they feel like the next chapter is too long, they’ll put the book down. That’s the last thing writers want! Short chapters also help keep the pace of a story from slowing down. This is because you treat each chapter like its own mini-story in editing, and because the reader is reading fast to get to the end of the chapter and find out what happens next...When dividing the scenes of your novel into chapters, think about it [in] terms of small stories...Chapters are structured in a manner similar to a story. Each is given a beginning, a middle and an ending with an opening for the sequel (otherwise known as the next chapter in the book). Practicing writing book chapters this way makes editing easier and helps with the overall plot of the book. When writing chapters or mini-stories, don’t forget to consider the arc of the plot. Build the tension in each chapter until you reach the climax and then ease the reader into the next chapter. The great thing about creating your own mini-story is that the ending need only be a few sentences long, and can serve as the lead into the next story for your reader...Write each chapter so that a nice little [cliffhanger] keeps the reader hooked and turning pages to the end of the book...Keeping the reader hooked is usually as simple as writing the right line or two. Many authors, like [Stephen] King, foreshadow the events of the next chapter in their last sentences. Others end the chapter in the middle of a tense scene, or cliffhanger[,] so the reader reads on to find out what happened. Some end chapters on a question or mystery, which may or may not be answered in the next chapter. It’s a good idea for authors to mix it up when arranging book chapters to add variety to the overall structure."
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