I’m always happy to answer questions from aspiring authors. This week, I got some tricky ones:
Q: How do you know when to end one chapter and start the next chapter?
A: You end a chapter as soon as the lead character either achieves their goal or fails.
The best place to end a chapter is immediately after you raise a new question in the reader’s mind. The desire to answer that question will make them turn the page.
Q: When is the best time to describe your characters: at the very beginning the story, or as you introduce each one?
A: When you introduce a new character, the best thing to do is show them already in action toward a meaningful goal.
When you describe them, make every detail count. Everything about that character should hint at who they really are inside.
Q: I’ve figured out all the major events in my novel. It’s filling in the gaps that I’m having trouble with. What do you write about to fill in those gaps and pass the days?
A: The wonderful thing about fiction is that you don’t have to fill the gaps.
You can skip all of the uneventful, boring time between exciting events in a single sentence: “The next day . . .” or “The following week . . .” or even “Ten years later . . .”
Rather than try to pad the story, just cut to the good stuff. Your readers will thank you.
The #1 writing book you should read
Those are the short answers, really. There’s so much more to learn.
If you’re an aspiring writer, there’s an excellent book I recommend: The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack Bickham. You can find it cheap on Amazon, or free through your local library. It’s a great book, and it helped me become a published author.
Above all, have fun writing!