#WritingTip Chapter Two and beyond

My recent blog activity included posts on Prologues and Chapter One. I’m not going to try and post about every possible chapter in one of my books but do think it’s worth saying something about Chapter Two and beyond.

Chapter Two

Although I find Chapter Two more flexible than the Prologue and/or Chapter One, it can still have certain characteristics:

  • Chapter Two can almost be another Chapter One, just as hooky and demanding, introducing a whole new character and/or situation. This is particularly useful if I introduced one viewpoint character in the first chapter and now want to bring on another viewpoint character with just as much room for her/his story. NB I’d probably include the character introduced in Chapter One as well so as not to completely interrupt flow but I’ve seen other authors successfully bring on a new character and situation almost as if beginning a different book. I think this latter approach takes a bit of confidence that the readers won’t feel disconnected and go and read something else instead, though.
  • Or Chapter Two can be a continuance of, or reaction to, the dramatic situation contained in Chapter One.
  • Or it can contain the background stuff I need to rationalise what’s grabbed the readers’ attention in Chapter One but I thought would interrupt flow at the time. I could allow myself a flashback at this point … if I was certain I needed one. Instead, I usually choose to bring the same information out in conversation/confrontation/introspection because it keeps the story flowing forward. I feel as if flashbacks put the action in reverse. NB This may be a personal prejudice.
  • Chapter Two can also be a place for readers to take a breather by introducing a complete change of pace. This can provide a sense of settling into the story. NB I wouldn’t want the pace to drop too far or for too long.

All chapters

I try and make every chapter open at a point of significance, exactly like a short story – bounce into the action or have somebody say something hookily surprising or intriguing. 

I aim to exit at least some chapters with drama, emotion, twists and surprises. As I’ve said before, the last page of a chapter is a good place for people to end a reading session and I like to try and stop them even if they’re reading in bed, shattered, and knowing they have to get up in the morning. I don’t want them to resist reading on. When I receive a message on social media or via my website and a reader says, ‘I was up until two reading your book!’ or ‘I just couldn’t put it down’ I feel as if I’ve succeeded!

You may also like:

Should I write a prologue?

What happens in Chapter One?

7 Comments

Filed under Sue Moorcroft

7 responses to “#WritingTip Chapter Two and beyond

  1. What do you feel about the length of chapters Sue? Interested in your thoughts 🙂

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    • Hi Shaz. Most of mine are 3-4,000 words, I think. I do actually like the occasional tiny chapter if I don’t feel the scene or perspective (point of view) fits in the chapters either side. Editors seem to prefer a more event approach, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I’ve become used to short chapters … the book I’m reading now has ‘long’ chapters and to be honest, I can’t remember the last story I read that didn’t have shorter chapters. I was wondering if it was to cater to current concentration spans (as in shorter chapters). Just curious 🙂

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  2. Pingback: #WritingTip What happens in Chapter One? | Sue Moorcroft blog

  3. Pingback: #WritingTip: should I write a prologue? | Sue Moorcroft blog

  4. Pingback: #WritingTip: Final Chapter(s) and (possible) Epilogue | Sue Moorcroft blog

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