A Quick And Dirty On When To Stop And Start A Chapter
Have a looooooooooong chapter and want to cut it but don’t know where?
Cut the chapter right when you blast the reader with surprise, suspense, or strain for maximum effect.
SURPRISE CHAPTER ENDING:
And he knew.
Panic lanced through him and he sat up in bed, sweating with anxiety as he wondered why it had taken him so long. Had his own faith dimmed so much he could not see what was clearly in front of him?
He jumped from bed as if thirty years were shaved from him, his heart racing at the earned knowledge of what this all meant and would mean. He fled the room, hoping he was not too late. Dragging his hand along the wall to Chalyn’s chamber, he knocked a little too anxiously on the door, worrying he had failed the test.
“Good morning,” the lad greeted as if trying to contain the zeal shining behind Herten’s own blind eyes. “How can I serve you, Deon Priest?”
“Nay,” said Herten. “How may I serve thee?”
And Priest Herten bowed before the God Gildeon.
SUSPENSE CHAPTER ENDING:
Kaelin rolled to his feet in time to see the biting glance of the mace roaring at him again. Kaelin rebounded and threw his body as far away as he could. Mid turn, the mace smashed into his right hip, knifing silver thorns into his body. Kaelin flew five feet before he hit the dirt in a pain soaked haze of darkness.
A teeth clenched scream escaped him. Liquid pain bloomed inside his body, gushing warmth out of crushed armor. He shuddered to lift his body, but the trauma of the blow numbed his limbs. He dove deep down… deep down… to sum together everything he had to stand and die fighting. He pushed up on his hands, but blood rushed away from him. Blackness chomped across his vision and he collapsed.
STRAINED CHAPTER ENDING:
“Kaelin – KAELIN!” Her shout morphed into a hopeless shriek. “KAELIN!”
When she was hoarse, she picked up a chair and hurled it at the door. The impact resounded with a loud crack and the chair landed out of reach.
She sat on the bed, her calm broken away like a horse tied in a storm. Barbed spits of panic hailed down into a pit of hopelessness. She curled her knees into her chest and rocked back and forth. But Kaelin never showed that day.
Or the next.
Don’t have any of those? That’s okay. Other areas where you can create chapters/chapter breaks:
- When characters travel (because travel is boring)
- When characters go to bed
If, after all those suggestions, you STILL don’t know where to create a chapter? This will be your fail-safe: A chapter ending should have the same tone, feel, and effect like the ending of a song.