How to Create Chapter Breaks

#writetip  There a many different ways to write a novel, but one thing most have in common is the story is broken into chapters.

How do you do this?

Do write in chapters, plotting the entire novel ahead of time?

Do you write the novel in scenes and then group them into chapters?

Or, do you write one long scene and then break into scenes and group into chapters?

I tend to write in scenes. This gives me a small section to write. As the saying goes, Inch-by-Inch, Life’s a Cinch.  I find it less overwhelming to write a scene than attempting an entire novel.

Once I’ve completed a draft and have all my scenes printed, I try grouping them into themes. If I can give several scenes one name, then I make it a chapter. If I can’t, then I look for another way to group scenes. I don’t focus on the length of a chapter. I think it’s more important to have the grouping right than to have consistent chapter lengths.

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2 thoughts on “How to Create Chapter Breaks

  1. I like writing in scenes too, and once I’m done with the first draft, I have a lot of fun shuffling the scenes around to see what the story looks like in different orders. (I use index cards-both virtual and handwritten for each scene) Leaving the scenes this way until close to the last phases of revision gives me the freedom to change the story order more easily.

    I’ve finally put some chapter divisions in now that I’m close to the final draft, but I like to play with these a lot too. I’ve heard that sometimes it’s even okay to end a chapter in the middle of a scene–to keep the reader turning pages! I haven’t tried that yet.

    My chapter lengths vary widely, from about 1600 words to up to about 4000 words. Any longer than that and I think my poor readers will get worn out!

    It’s very interesting to read about your process. 🙂

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  2. I’ve tried index cards, but I always go back to my spreadsheet. I don’t know why, but I work better that way. I think varying the chapter lengths is good. To me, it makes the novel interesting to read. Too many long chapters in a row can certainly tire a reader.

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