Recently, I've been surprised by the number of questions I've gotten pertaining to the structure of a chapter. I've already gone over how to write an awesome first chapter, but I had a few people (okay, maybe one) asking about how to break your novel down to the chapter level.
Want to hear my beautiful voice? Watch the accompanying video below and see if you catch me making any mistakes as you read along!
No matter what your method of writing or outlining (pantser, snowflake method, posterboard outlining, whatever!) I have some tips that I think you'll find particularly useful!
First up, let's go over some important concepts.
Good writing should 1) hook the reader, and 2) keep the reader hooked. It's as simple as that. Fiction writing may span many genres, but these two things are always constant. Your novel could be a love-story or it could be a political thriller, but to be good writing, you have to keep the reader flipping those pages.
Since I've already talked about hooking the reader in the first chapter, let's talk about keeping them hooked.
In this video, I've talked about how to structure and outline your story. I also talked about how the action in a novel should rise and fall (modeling the 3-act structure). It is possible to fatigue your reader, so a balance must always be maintained from having too much action or too much emotion. This balance should also be applied loosely to the chapter level.
Why loosely? On a larger scale, some chapters will just be more exciting than others - there'll be more tension or mysteries or drama. But on a microscopic level, even those chapters don't stay at full throttle action for too long. Even if it's the climax of the book, there might be a drop in action when the protagonist thinks he's lost it all, that he's just going to give up. At this point, your character is at a low, no longer feeling empowered or capable, switching to an emotional state.
In the end, your reader needs to go on an action/emotional merry-go-round, and shouldn't stay in one spot for too long. Stopping on those emotions for too long creates fatigue. And that