So you’ve done it – you’ve actually sat down and started writing. But before you get too far, we recommend you take a moment and think about how you’d like to organize the chapters in your book. It may not seem like such a big deal now, but once you have pages and pages of words, you’ll want to begin to arrange them in a way that feels natural, matches the flow of your story and keeps your readers’ focus.
So, here are 4 key tips to consider as you organize the chapters of your book.
Think Like a Reader
Yes, we know you’re the writer. But stop and think for a second. What is it like for you when you read books? What do you like about chapter divisions and what don’t you like? Do you prefer chronological order or do you prefer stories that move back and forth, paying more attention to the plot than the literal timeline? Do you like short chapters or longer chapters? These are important questions you need to ask yourself. Think back on some of your favorite chapters, what did they have in common? Those are the characteristics you will want your chapters to have. Step outside of yourself for a moment and think about your readers. They will most likely enjoy the same type of chapters you do so give them the organization you appreciate most. They will thank you for it and enjoy your book more because of it too.
Outline Your Story’s Main Ideas
Once you have the characteristics of your chapters down, outline your story’s main ideas. What are the major points in your story? What parts of the story can’t be looked over or ignored? Those are your main ideas. What happened during those times and who was involved? Take note of all of this. This helps to develop the overall frame of your book. When you do this, the main ideas become visual markers of where your chapters need to be. To help you get started, we recommend you check out our very own Karolyne Robert’s The Write Guide which has a fabulous chapter on getting started that we know you’ll find quite useful.
Consider the Flow of Your Main Ideas
The best stories and books flow well. So think about how your main ideas connect to one another. Think of it this way. How would you tell someone the summary of your story if you were having a simple conversation with them. Would you start from the beginning? If so, organize your chapters chronologically? Would you describe a certain scene or character first? If so, chronological order may not be the best way to organize your chapters. Jot down your main ideas on post-it-notes and move them around to see which story flow you enjoy best. When you’ve found it, organize your chapters the same way.
Organizing chapters isn’t the easiest part of the writing process but it is necessary and when done well, it results in a book the reads well, flows well and is enjoyable for the reader. So take the time and think about your reader, gather your main ideas and play around with them until you find a story line flow that makes your soul jump. That is when you’ll know you’ve organized your chapters well.
Write on. The world is waiting to read your story.