54

A The benefit of using chapters isn't related to the storytelling, but rather to the comfort of the reader. It provides an easily identifiable break in the story. If a reader needs to put down their book, they will generally prefer to do so between two separate scenes; as opposed to mid-scene or even mid-conversation. If you leave the story mid-...


31

Is written garbage better than leaving the page blank? Infinitely! Does every page you write need to be part of your novel? No! If you are seeing weaknesses in the structure of your story, and you know what you need to create to strengthen it, then that is what you should write. If you see the weakness but don't know how to fix it, writing is still ...


20

It sounds like the divisions emerged organically and intrinsically from the story – that's how it should be. Don't worry that some are long and some are short. That's not a flaw. Forcing the story to fit a rigid, arbitrary amount of pages – like a screenplay that must introduce pre-requisite conflicts at "percentages" of running time to fit cinema turnover ...


18

There are two questions hiding in your question, 1. Can the POV character not be the character who's most active? Consider Sherlock Holmes as an example. Watson is the POV character, the story is told in first person by Watson, it's Watson's opinions and emotions we share. But Watson is passive. It's Holmes who is active, it's Holmes who is interesting, it'...


15

Technically, no. Most novels use them, but I've read some Discworld novels that just have a black line occasionally to break things up. You may also wish to consider writing an epistolary novel, which is a series of fictional documents such as letters (e.g. The Color Purple) or diary entries (e.g. Flowers for Algernon). That gives an arguably more natural, ...


13

Something I've learned as a programmer that translates directly to writing is that quite a lot of what you write will not make it to the final product, and you have to be OK with that. A lot of writing is for your own personal learning or exploration. If that weren't true, we'd all just publish our first drafts and have done with it. So don't call it "...


13

If there is such a huge time difference and there are no big temporal skips in the rest of the book this would likely be a good prologue. Because of the difference this would feel to the reader like something that is not directly related to the current story, but is important to understand for example the character's motivation. If it was a Chapter 1 the ...


12

Chapters are not necessary, but help readers understand what is happening. There ARE chapters in films, signaled by "establishing shots", the first orientation shot that tells the viewer the time/place has changed and a new scene will take place there. Typically the image fades out and fades in on a distinctly different scene, often (not always) a long shot ...


11

If you think of a scene, it is a smaller scale for chapters. A book contains many chapters, that contains some scenes. The scale for scenes should be smaller than 3000-5000 words, cause in sum, they should make a chapter of 3000-5000 words. My personal opinion on chapters is: If you need them, then use them. Nothing is more annoying in reading, as to ...


11

Each chapter will open on something that sets the scene to come. A descriptive paragraph (or other length) that focuses on the setting is a perfectly legitimate way to do this, but it's not required. You can also open with dialogue, or character thoughts, or an action, for example. If you have multiple POVs, you may wish to start each chapter with ...


9

Something around the chapters? Front matter is usually all the stuff that comes in a book before the start of the story/main body of the book. Title page, copyright page, acknowledgements, table of contents, etc. Back matter would be citations or index for non-fiction. For fiction, I'd say back matter is fairly optional, but it might include an "about the ...


9

Yes! The epilogue began long before "the never ending series" became the common form. Remember: "And they lived happily ever after" is an epilogue. It's a way of satisfying the readers curiosity as to what happens after the story so you don't have to write that story too. It can also tie off any loose threads you could not fit into your narrative (a bit ...


9

I think you need either a more general title for your book, or a more specific title for your first chapter. The main thing I see wrong with that is it will make it seem like the whole story is about Chapter 1, and then Chapter 2 is about ... another story? After the story? But many stories are named after the crucial event in the story. The title "When ...


8

In addition to the other answers, chapters help with finding things in books. Chapter numbers don't change between different prints of a book, or different translations, or different resolutions of your screen if it's online. This makes it possible to talk about the same book with someone else without using events from the book. Chapters with titles make ...


8

A chapter can be long or short, it can be longer or shorter than other chapters in your novel, you might have a novel with no chapters at all. Think of it this way: a sentence isn't defined as 5-10 words. It is as long as it needs to be to express a small idea. Not letting it run over three lines is a sort of useful guideline, but sometimes you might ignore ...


8

Short answer: break where it makes sense. Some points at which breaks are traditionally made or ways to define breaks include: change of site, the place the action is taking place changes. change in POV character, someone different starts telling the narrative. change in auxiliary characters, the people the narrator is interacting with changes. The actual ...


8

Break the chapter into three scenes. Each scene has a POV character. First and last scenes have one POV character. Middle scene has the other POV character. Since the scenes in the chapter will differ only in time, make it clear on the scene transitions that the POV has changed. For example, scene two starts with the clearly identified POV character of the ...


8

As the other answers have stated, I don't believe re-using the story's name for the first chapter is a particularly good idea, especially if it means something different later on in your story. However... Would the answer be any different if it were the last, or any other chapter? Yes. It's not unknown for anime to name their final episode after the ...


7

I think chapters make a good breakpoint in the flow. I often read if I'm on my way home, or at home. Since I'm not living alone, it often happens that something unexpected pops up. If you want to break inside the text, it is sure possible, but if I open up the book I have to search for the part where I stoped and in the bad case szenario I have to reread a ...


7

+1 Shadocat; I will expand on that answer with reasons. Epilogues are especially welcome if your story is strongly focused on characters, and throughout the story they (like most of us) have thoughts about their future, plans and fears. If your story centers around an issue in their present life, it may only cover the span of a few months. But in the ...


6

Sometime in the chapter's first sentence or paragraph, simply state that there has been a time jump, either by stating the difference (10 years later...) or by stating the new date (or both). There's no biggie on this. Stories do it all the time. That's part of what the chapter separation is for--setting a new scene.


6

Finish the story. Finish it whether it's one book, two, or five. Writing is practice for writing; editing is practice for editing. No effort is wasted. If you have two or three really good books, then when you present book 1 to an agent you can say "book 2/3 is already finished and edited." This means that if the agent likes it, there is/are already sequel(...


6

Normally when I start writing a story, there is a moment with a character or a specific line that inspired me to start thinking about the story. I then focus on that specific moment and figure out how to get to the dialogue or the moment I envisioned. Sometimes I start writing the chapter and I never actually write the sentence or the event that I imagined,...


6

TVTropes.org refers to this as How We Got Here A type of In Medias Res/Whole Episode Flashback, where the story opens at a point at the middle or near the end of the story, and the bulk of the story is spent showing how the character got to this point. A great example would be the episode of Firefly called "Trash" that opens with Mal sitting naked ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible