7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

A chapter is a chapter and a scene is a scene. Or are they? What’s the differences between scenes vs. chapters? Are they ever the same thing? Must a chapter always be a complete scene? Or must a scene always be a chapter? What about scene breaks and chapter breaks? Is there a difference? These […]

How to Write Can’t-Look-Away Chapter Breaks (What I Learned Writing Storming)

How to Write Can’t-Look-Away Chapter Breaks (What I Learned Writing Storming)

Chapter breaks in novels are like the Becher’s Brook jump in National Velvet. That’s where the bodies pile up. Many a book has been declared dead to its reader and cast aside never to be remembered–and all because the reader reached a chapter break and didn’t care enough to keep reading. That’s the bad news. The […]

The Lazy Technique That Can Cripple Any Suspenseful Chapter Ending

The Lazy Technique That Can Cripple Suspenseful Chapter Endings

This week’s video offers an example of what might seem to be a great technique for chapter endings, and then shows you why it’s lazy and how to make it fantastic instead.   Video Transcript: Do you know what’s the most dangerous part of your book? Try chapter endings. These are subliminal signals to your […]

Scene Breaks: Why Your Story May Not Have Enough of Them

Scene Breaks: Why Your Story May Not Have Enough of Them

This week’s video discusses two of the little-considered abilities of scene breaks—and how you can put them to work in your story. Video Transcript: Scene breaks are your friends. Better than that, they’re like your super-secret, totally-ready-and-willing-to-go-the-extra-mile worker elves. They’re this tiny little technique that can be used in all kinds of ways to subtly […]

4 Ideas for Ending Book Chapters So Readers Will Kill to Know What Happens Next

4 Ideas for Ending Book Chapters So Readers Will Kill to Know What Happens Next

Good book chapters are like bad treasure maps. They will lure you in. They will lead you through uncharted territory. Yet, at the end, they will not yield the treasure—they will just make you want to continue the search. What Is the Structure of Book Chapters? Ideally, each chapter will cover an event, a character, or […]

Are Your Scene Breaks Rude?

Are Your Scene Breaks Rude?

After finishing the first draft of Jane Eyre: The Classic Annotated for Readers and Writers, I’m rewarding my tattered brain cells with a week off. Instead of new posts this week, I hope you’ll enjoy revisiting an old video on an important topic. This week’s video points out how a simple failure on the author’s part can […]

Don’t Tie Off Your Scenes With a Ribbon

Cliffhangers. Even cooking shows do ’em nowadays. Ever watched Chopped? Just as Ted Allen’s lifting the cloche to reveal the dish that failed the round, Food Network jumps to a commercial. And you have to watch. No way you can go through the rest of the night without knowing who made the best appetizer out […]

How to Use Scene Breaks to Cut Your Story’s Fat

Avoiding excessive word count is a weighty consideration for any writer, but most particularly in order to keep unnecessary fat from weighing down your stories. Here’s a quick trick for using scene breaks to both cut the fat and make it seem like you’ve cut the fat. Fat takes many shapes, everything from repetitive dialogue to […]

How Scene and Chapter Length Control Pacing

How Long Should a Scene Be? Depends on the Pacing

Did you know that writing shorter sentences during action scenes contributes to a sense of tension and speed? Turns out this  simple little trick that can also help you figure out how long a scene should be. Controlling paragraph, sentence, and even word length is a common and easy way to affect the pacing of your […]

Chapter Openings: Orson Scott Card’s Occasionally-Appropriate Trick

A gimmick is a dishonest trick. As such, it’s usually not a good way to gain readers’ trust or engage them your book’s chapter openings. Except …. for when it is. Gimmicks in fiction take many forms, but most simply boil down to flashy intrusions—such as: Multiple fonts to indicate different points of view Strange […]