. . . again. (grin) Last night, I finished breaking my 13 page synopsis into chapters, using it as a guide to write about a page of handwritten notes about each chapter, being careful to include who is in it, where to begin, and what poignant thought to end it with. It’s here that I usually find my hook into the next chapter that gets you to turn the page instead of turn off the light and go to bed.
There are definite no-nos when ending chapters. Be careful ending with “I don’t know what to do.” Never end with the main character going to bed. Passing out occasionally is okay, and by that, once a book is almost too much. Ending by taking a walk to clear her head is chancy. (Unless she’s thinks aloud that she’s going to talk to a neighbor about problem X.)
I’ve found it most effective to end chapters with a thought or word that implies story movement. “I”ve got to talk to Trent” “Soon as I find Nick, I’m going to kick his butt” “That’s the third body in as many days, I’m going to turn into a rat and do some investigation” “Three, two, one, go!” Something that teases the reader into turning the page to see what she says to Trent, how she finds Nick, or if she is indeed fury for the next 40 pages. It’s all about pinging the readers curiosity.
So now I’ve got 27 pages of notes, I know the ending. I can make a solid beginning that circles back to the ending. I know the slow spot that I’m going to have to try to beef up. I have some character growth that stems from the problems she’s dealing with, and I’ve got a way to end it that is satisfying, and yet makes you eager for the next book. I know. It sounds so easy the way I say it. The hard part is finding ways to do it, and the only way you can learn to find the hooks and patterns is to practice–a lot.
Now I’ve just got to write the thing.
Today I’ll spend the morning writing out dialog, and hopefully turn it into prose in the afternoon. Is the plotting lesson over? (grin) Mostly, but since I’m writing a first chapter, I’ll take some time tomorrow to tell you how an editor or agent knows how much time you’ve put in honing your craft–by simply looking at one page. Yep. That’s generally all it takes to decide if they will read more, or write their “Thank you, but no” letter. Doesn’t seem fair, but if you’ve not put the time in, there are people who have, and that’s whom they want to talk to.
Puppies are sassy again, barking, not wheezing. And tomorrow is the last day to send me your Halloween photos! You guys really outdid yourself this year. This is going to be hard to judge.