I am currently working on my first serious story/book. I have written in the past, but I never really paid attention to the structure or word count or really anything that made a story, a story.
For this book, I have created a general outline of how I want the chapters to go, in terms of the plot and story events. Unfortunately, I'm already stuck on the first chapter.
My story has a prologue. This can be controversial between writers, but I feel it enhances my story and pulls readers in. This prologue is one that gives you a look into an event that happens later on in the story. Because of this, though, I don't want to immediately introduce this event. My plan is to have the cause of this event occur in or around chapter five. In the meantime, I need to give some content to chapters 1-4 (as I currently have it structured, this event would actually occur in chapter 3. This is not ideal, but the compromise I made with myself because I was unsure how to fill the other chapters).
|Prologue||Hunter||Wakes up in a box. Tries to find her way out. Ends on her opening the box and looking around stunned|
|Chapter 1||Hunter||Day before incident. Hanging out with Ayla, planning a trip. Walking through Dingle while they talk. Establish characters|
|Chapter 2||Ayla||Goes home after seeing Hunter. Excited about the trip. Helps her mom at home. Packs for trip|
|Chapter 3||Ayla||Day of the trip. Everything going well. Decides to vlog. Hunter's fall|
This outline seems very unsustainable, and I'm struggling to really write the chapter. The two characters (Hunter and Ayla) have already made the plan for their trip, and I'm only about 400 words in (goal of 2000 per chapter, give or take). For my first revision, I'd like to have at least 1000 words.
I have researched different strategies on how to lengthen chapters, but have not had very much success with those (and after a while everything is very repetitive). I am trying to be descriptive without just outright stating certain facts or details about the characters (or really giving away too much, I'd like to be able to develop the characters so the reader learns more about them as the story goes on). I also really dislike when a character just stands there and describes another character ("she had long blonde hair that glistened every time the sun hit it the right way. She was wearing black jeans, despite the summer heat." etc etc).
Descriptions aside, I am also struggling with how to lengthen the chapter in terms of content. In the chapter, they're walking through Dingle, Ireland. Would it make sense to simply describe them going into different shops? Part of me wants to summarize their trip, and then cut to a new section, possibly later that day. But even then, what would I include? It's in Hunter's POV, so maybe her when she's home? My main concern with all of these options is the story being boring. This may be an internalized thing, and I may just need to start writing for it to come to me, but I don't want to start down the wrong path and then need to rework a big portion of the story.
My main questions here are
- What makes good filler content?
- How much dialog is too much?
- Is it okay to develop the story as you go, or should you outline everything beforehand?
- Too much description vs Too little?
I am looking to avoid the lengthy answers that only/mainly advocate "Show, don't tell". This question is more about general chapter/story structure and content than how to simply make it longer.
While I have researched this quite extensively, and am currently working on trying to implement some of the tips I have found, I am still interested in a more personal answer and possible getting some different points of view.