How To: Creating Chapters by SUZANNE D. WILLIAMS

Send to Kindle

Suzanne Williams

There are different methods of creating book chapters. Some authors write the entire story then go back and break things up. Others outline the story in advance and so know exactly where the chapters end. Frankly, I can’t do either one. The latter because I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, the former because I have discovered the best way to keep a reader’s interest and have them eager to begin the next section or chapter comes through a little planning.

Now, as I’ve said, I’m not an outliner, so that’s not the type of planning I’m talking about. I only make general notes on the direction a story’s taking. I usually place these between brackets and highlight them. This way they stand out and I know to come back to that spot. Instead, I’m talking about writing the story by chapters.

Each chapter I write has a general structure:

First line hook
Point of view change
Scene climax cut-off

I love a good first line hook –

“Boys are gross. I should know.”

“There were enough cops per square inch in that place that she ought to be frightened, except this time she hadn’t done anything.”

“Timothy Cooper, with his sandy-colored hair and sparkling blue eyes, was an absolute dream.”

A well-crafted first line peaks the readers interest, makes them want to know why the speaker said what they did and what happens next. The above examples are all from Chapter 1. However, this same idea is true of every succeeding chapter or, even, minor scene changes. You’ve gotten them this far in your story, don’t stop using hooks just because it’s Chapter 12.

“He kissed like a man, not a machine, his breath warm and moist, his lips salty, his tongue confident, curling alongside hers.”

That line comes in Chapter 2, Scene 3. By approaching each scene as if it were the start of the book, I’ve found I write much better. I reassess who is speaking; I learn whose point of view this scene is in; and I figured out what my goal is for the next one thousand words. Then, before I write one line, I ALWAYS ask myself how I want the scene to end. Thinking larger, I ask the same about the chapter ending.

This doesn’t mean I know every word. I don’t. But it does mean I’m conscious of where the reader will be emotionally at that moment in time. When they get to the final paragraph of that chapter or scene, what will they expect the characters to do or say? Often, this is my chance to throw a wrench into the works.

You know what I mean. That spot where you toss your hands up in frustration because you didn’t see that coming. I love writing those. They guarantee the reader will flip the page. HOWEVER, they aren’t always possible or needed. Sometimes it’s better to end on a low note. Too many will make the storyline jumpy. But DON’T limit yourself to just one. There is in the entire storyline, of course, only one climactic moment. But there are dozens of small ones as you go along. Use one as a chapter ending.

“But, in a split second, the earth turned upside down, and he was flung against the roof and back down onto the dash in a crunch of metal and glass.”

That’s an example of an action ending. The reader will naturally want to know if he survives the crash. Here’s a more subtle one from the same story:

“Sedona rose and glanced toward the kitchen. ‘I know where I keep the chocolate.’”

Using dialogue, I cut the previous conversation off abrupt, giving just enough detail the reader is satisfied but not so much they’re through with the story.

This is, in general, how I write. Now, every author is different. What works for me might not work for you. But writing by chapters helps me craft a much better book. It also causes me to think harder. I’m not blissfully slapping words down on the page, but they have a defined purpose. It also keeps me from getting lost, and that’s easy to do when you’re writing off the cuff.

Finally, it helps me sense the end. Getting to the end of a story you’ve been working on for however long is a really sweet moment. Getting there and knowing you don’t have to go back and fix anything is even sweeter. There is always editing to be done, but ask anyone who’s edited for me and they’ll tell you there’s very little needed. That makes me pretty happy. It means I’ve done my job well.

After all, writing a book is much more than coming up with the story itself. There’s marketing to consider, and graphics, and grammar, and sentence structure. Writing requires knowledge, and the more I take the time to learn, the better a writer I’ll become. It also requires responsibility. I am responsible for the impression others have of my work. Only I can craft chapters that make the reader want to come back.


A Kiss in September

Amazon –
Barnes & Noble –


Suzanne Williams
Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalogue of stories, visit or link with her on Facebook at



Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *