Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Breaking Up

I am currently in the process of finding the absolute worst place to end my chapters, namely, where it hits the fan.

First of all, a little background. Although I’ve made scene breaks, when writing this book I made no effort to divide up by chapters. Previous books have taught me that I move stuff around or change things quite a bit. I decided doing it in this book would only create more work later, and it was better to save the chapter breaks for when I was analyzing the tension in scenes. And, because I can’t resist an opportunity to toot my own horn, I was right.

I’ve spent the last week color coding my book to highlight the conflict (as well as dialogue, description, and action). As I did so, I realized many of the scene breaks ended on a weak note, which did not bode well for the eventual chapter breaks. So I moved them. Right in between the areas where the biggest conflicts were going on.

Will it work? Yeah, I think it will. These are the areas where sh!t is going down and the reader will (I hope) have to see what’s going to happen next.

Thus ends another story about how this jumble of words is very slowly forming something I would allow you to read. How do you end your chapters? How important is tension and conflict before your breaks?


  1. Hello JE. I'm guessing rental mobil is a robot.

    As to your actual questions, I try to write them as I like to read them- if that makes sense.

    Over at White Cat we get lots of submissions where you can see that the writer tried to force tension into a scene because someone told them to in either a writing book or at a conference. It's helpful for lots of people, but I'll just say this right out that you seem way too intelligent to need that type of thinking. You seem like you know what you like to read, and that's what's most important. If you think about what you like and how you can share that same love with your readers, you're going to knock your readers right out of their chairs.

  2. I also tend not to put in chapter breaks as I'm writing longer works. I guess the page-turningest* books I've read don't necessarily end each chapter on a cliffhanger, but do most definitely end chapters with the conflict unresolved, or at the point where it is clear that said chapter has raised the stakes of the conflict. If that makes sense.

    *I invented this hyphenated abomination just for this comment.

  3. I probably should do this. When I write something tells me that the chapter is over, so that's where I make a chapter break. I don't think this is the best method.

  4. Sounds like the way to go! I always loved the chapter breaks in the Pretty Little Liars series. It was the perfect combination between cliffhanger and tying up the ends. :)

  5. I write each chapter in their own seperate files, and some of them end on a bit of a cliffhanger sort of moment; others are more or less of a quiet moment where it makes sense to end it.


Please validate me.