26 October 2012

Creating Strong Chapters

I had an opportunity to attend the FloridaWriters Association conference in Orlando, Florida this year and I had the best time. Meeting other writers, some published, some not, made me feel so at home. I found myself selecting sessions which intrigued me, looking for that next morsel of knowledge which makes it all come together in this mystical journey toward weaving the ultimate tale.

Here are some tidbits we gained about creating strong chapters. I think we already know these things, but have we seen them in a list, jumping off a page, or passionately lectured at a writing conference? I am not sure, but I will share it here. This was such a refresher and I was enthusiastic when I sat down to map out chapters six and seven!

Before you start your next chapter, ask yourself these questions and then proceed. Keep in mind, each character needs to have a goal, a desire for a favorable outcome.

These were questions asked in our session: How to Structure Your Fiction by Janice Decker

Who will be in this chapter and what are their goals/desires?

You will obviously have your protagonist or POV character, along with other known characters and characters you wish to introduce. List them and their goals. Every character in your chapter must have a desire or else why are they here? When every character has a goal, go to the next question.

What is each character's physical, emotional, and psychological state coming into the chapter?

The reader needs to know this so that when the story unfolds, there is a transformation which happens while you write your chapter. By knowing this information, you are able to write a natural story line and make your fiction more believable. Readers relate to your characters' emotions and psychological makeup, so long as they are believable, you can let the fiction flow!

Where do you want each of your characters to be with respect to their physical, emotional, and psychological state when the chapter ends?

If you know character A is anxious because she suspects her husband of cheating on her, then she cannot be anxious when the chapter ends. She will either be relieved to have discovered she was wrong, or she will be distraught to discover she was right. Either way, there has to be a change by the end of the chapter. If there is no distinctive difference, then your characters will come across as flat and your chapter a dud!

With all three questions answered, you will be able to move from point A (beginning of chapter) to point B (ending of chapter), keeping your chapter tight and strong. That was the lesson and I plan to put it to use from here on out. Thank you, Janice Decker!

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