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How Do You Write Your Chapters?

oh my
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The "Fear of Editing" thread kind of inspired me to post this. As the title implies, how do you go about constructing your chapter from start to finish? Do you start with an outline, or perhaps start writing right away?



Personally, I go about it in a system of sorts. First, I come up with the idea of what I would like the chapter to look like. I then write it in the form of an outline that has at least 10 events, so I know that the chapter will hopefully be entertaining. After that, I start the draft.

My draft consists of what I like to call the "skeleton, muscle, and skin". The skeleton is what my chapter looks like after I finished it for the first time. It has sporadic spelling and grammar errors and oddly placed sentences. I fix these errors and turn my chapter into the next phase, or the muscle. Pretty much everything is there, and there is a clear image of what I'm going for with the chapter. After that, I move into the last phase, the skin. Here I add all the details that really make the story come to life and give off my personal flare.

Once all of that is finished, I can post it.
 
Thesaurus rex
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I start with a rather vague outline of the chapter, from my notes on the story arc. I'll write up a more detailed chronological plan of the chapter afterwards, which puts proper flesh on the vague bones of the arc outline. If I still can't quite visualise any part of the chapter I'll spend more time planning it out. Like as not, when it comes to actually writing the chapter I'll end up changing, adding and cutting on the fly. I never quite know how well the chapter will flow till write it, so a lot of the last minute changes are based on pacing.

More and more I find myself with a bank of scenes that I can insert wherever they feel right. Most of them are Josh/Eve scenes
 
Secret Sword of Justice
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Oh, that's easy. All I really do is come up with the main event that the chapter focuses on and then work my way up from that. For example, the main event in the latest Super Luigi chapter is Luigi exploring a sunken ship and submarine and battling a massive monster in order to find his next Battle Star. I just work it all out from there.

My Zelda and Fire Emblem fics tend to have somewhat more complicated main events, but the basic idea still applies.
 
This is the Monado's power!
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I just start writing, and fix any errors I make as I make them (unless I don't notice the error at the time of writing, in which case, since the fic I'm writing uses color coded dialog, I tend to notice when I go about placing the BBcode tags in their proper places). Of course, while I may know where I'm going with the chapter, the writing may just get derailed by writer's block regarding the description of a particular scene.
 
Princess of Dorkness
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I follow a rather long list of steps.

First, I consult the chapter list, which is pretty much all planned out and lays out the plotlines of each chapter in a "season". This applies to every story I write, from Storm Island to Let The World Fear Us and even that crappy Zelda story I never finished. I'll look at the chapter I'm writing and if I find that it doesn't really fit or keeps an idea going for too long (for example, the next chapter listed for Storm Island is "The Maze", which was intended to continue the Cult of the Lost arc which is pretty much finished for now. I'll be dropping this chapter and moving onto "Spirit Visions".), I'll decide to drop it. Or, I might choose to add a small "half chapter" to investigate another plot which may be happening on the island.

Second, I grab the plot and move it to a new text file. I grab the final scene of the previous chapter and paste it at the start to make transitions feel more natural. I then draw up the notes in several distinct sections, starting with the plot, followed by which settings the chapter will take place in, following up with which characters will appear and what Pokemon they command. Then I'll draw up the finer details of the story, building on the main plot point. Finally, I'll list any encounters which happen, and if a battle takes place, I'll list the moves that are used and describe them.

Third, and this step has probably saved me the most time, I bring over the é character from the previous chapter.

Finally, I put on some good music and start writing. If I'm writing an action packed scene, I'll put on some movie soundtracks. If I need something investigative, I'll put on some James Bond or something from 24. If I'm diving into technology, I'll go with Star Trek music. If I'm doing history or magic, it's folk music. I've found that in chapters I write without listening to music, the essence and soul just aren't there.

Then, I write out the major scenes. After that, I'll bridge them together with transitions, minor dialogue or abuse of description. Then it's onto final editing, which could take anywhere between a few hours and a few days, depending on how badly I did. Here's an example of how my setup looks, without the final scene of the previous chapter.

Hopefully someone can learn from my methods. :D
 
make plove not warble
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My method is pretty simple. I have short bullet points at the very end of my Word document describing upcoming scenes. Whenever I have a new idea, I'll add it in there, and that's what I use to keep myself on track. I'm usually a chapter or two ahead of myself with those notes. If I catch up, then I'll just jot down some more. I never just start writing from a blank slate. That's also how I keep track of where I'm putting chapter breaks, and any elements I want to mention in the chapter (for consistency).

I also have a playlist of music where I keep the stuff that inspires specific scenes so that I can be sure to really capture the essence of how it was in my imagination when I first conceived it.

AC-Prescott said:
-- BE DESCRIPTIVE GOD DAMN IT.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who leaves self-deprecating reminders in my notes. I also tend to qualify iffy parts of my outline with "...or some shit."
 
Gather round, people, I'll tell you a story
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I always have an outline of the chapter's major events on hand to reference as I write, but it should not be too detailed, so I have room for flexibility in case things develop differently from how I planned while I write. I'll "work with my characters," in a sense, to develop the chapter roughly according to plan, then when it's done I'll go back, edit everything however necessary, and update future chapter notes to reflect whatever story changes cropped up in the chapter that was just written.
 
The Pokemon Observer
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I already had the fundamental overall outline of the entire story inside my head from the beginning to ending. So I just break up the story into smaller sections and work out what events that are needed in order to proceed into my desired ending.

For each single chapter, firstly I go listed out the objectives I wanted for the chapter. Then I'll go fantasizing the upcoming possible events based this list of objectives, using the previous chapter and the in-story progresses as basis of daydreaming. The events and scenes and outcomes inside one chapter is not fixed, so there may be several versions of the same chapter. I'll choose the one that I feel that is most interesting and yet most logical and plausible.

Secondly, I'll jot down my imaginations on paper (more correctly, word document or text file) in the form of a summary, briefly describing the events occurring within that chapter, or sometimes the noticeable dialogues of the characters.

Thirdly, I'll start working on the actual fic using that summary as the basis. Adding details, descriptions, the finer actions and reactions of each characters, the in-depth conversations and dialogues between the characters, the atmosphere within the scenes, etc.

Then finally, after I had finished that chapter, I'll go proofread it for several times and edit the subtle things such as grammar, sentence structure, word usage, tone of description, etc. Until I'm finally satisfy with it.



Every time I only work on one single chapter. I'll never start step 3 for the next chapter before the previous chapter is actually finished. But, I allow myself to have plot summaries for severals of the upcoming chapters. So there are already many summaries outlining the events of future chapters that are much more ahead of my current working chapter.

I don't know is this good method or not, because I'm often doing too much step 1 and 2 for future chapters, dragging the writing speed of the current chapter. Currently, I had already planned up to chapter 13, yet still writing chapter 2. My imagination is too much ahead of the actual writing.
 
I'm just Saiyan...
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Start with an OOC to catch the readers up and end with either a zinger or a swift kick in the morality. As for the story, I like starting slow, building up and finishing with a checkpoint toward the next chapter. Though, I'm speaking in terms of RP forum posts. I suppose for a novel it'd be roughly the same, but more room to work with. And by "slow" I mean the less action-y or less emotional portions of the chapter. God help me if the first few sentences are the equivalent of a "How's the weather?"
 
追放されたバカ
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I just write what comes to mind.

My chapters are usually between 1,000 and 2,000 words, sometimes less, sometimes more. Generally I write chapters on weekends because I'm busy during the weekdays.
 
I'm just Saiyan...
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To elaborate more on what I said earlier, I just make a rough chart of what I wanna write. Nothing big, just easily edited reminders. From there, I go down the list.

Wakes up. (Start)

Walks down street. (Middle)

Gets eaten by the giant pigmy marmoset on the red tricycle whistling dixy. (End)

From the above I fill in any noticeable gaps...

Wakes up. (Start)

-Drinks coffee.

Walks down street. (Middle)
Ect...

Important, can't-miss key elements like that.
 
Requiem Raver
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I just let the chapters freerun, keeping the final plot and story outline in mind

I will however consult with previous chapters to ensure continuity.

After the chapter is written, I will look it over and edit it (at least two pass throughs).
 
World's worst critic
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I must be the odd one out then. Heh.

I don't do bullet points, or outlines, or anything... I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but that's just how it is for me, anyways. What I usually do when writing something new, I'll take the idea I have in my mind, and I'll just... start writing. I just go with it, just writing the scene as it would naturally progress. Character interactions are usually made up on the spot, and I'll crank out around 1,000 - 2,000 words just winging it as I go.

Afterwards, though, I stop. I let it sit for a while, usually a day, and then I'll come back and re-read it. That's when the actual planning stage happens. I read it over several times, asking myself certain questions along the way. Was it descriptive enough? Too descriptive? Are the character interactions (if any) natural, or do they seem forced? Does it fit in line with the rest of the story? Most importantly, does it make sense and convey the ideas appropriately? During this whole process, that's when the actual editing happens. I'll change phrases, add in descriptions if they're lacking, mess with the flow of the story, add in or remove certain parts, and generally polish the whole thing. Then, once I've finished the editing process, I do it again. I re-read what I've written again, asking myself the same questions, and making additional changes as necessary.

This is something I've just started doing, though. It's my own little method that sort of "evolved" once I actually decided I wanted to write seriously. Some of my earlier chapters for my stories are a little... unpolished, for lack of a better term. The method I have now is a recent development though, and it's not uncommon for me to read over a chapter I've written 5-10 times just to make sure that I like it and it's good enough for posting.
 
Monoceros
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When I write a chapter, I usually start with a core scene which acts as the anchor to the chapter. I'll then fill in with other relevant scenes that either lead up to or help describe the action. But it all comes down to that anchor; once I have that I can start building and fleshing out the rest.
 
Ms. Canadian Destroyer
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I wing it for the most part but I try and have a few bullet points to work with.
 
It's been a while
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You know, it's weird for me. I mean I haven't written anything with chapter format for a while, but when I do write, generally I plan ahead. I found though, that when I wing it, the result is a lot better. I do have a big picture in mind, and an end goal usually, but not always. However, I try to keep the planing to a minimum and if while I'm writing I come up with something better I go with it, which sometimes ruins the original plan, but it doesn't really matter as long as it feels right. When it comes to character interactions or specific scene which are milestones to the plot, I usually have a rough draft ingrained in my mind that I daydream about for fun, because imagination yo. Though, I'm not really sure where these scene should be or when they happen, so it's definitely a possibility for them to change from the original plan, and again I'm okay with that.

I think what this comes down to is, architectural writing and organic writing. The first is when you have the entire story laid out and ready to be written, while the latter is when you just start writing from scratch and see where it goes. I don't believe anyone is a pure type of either, we do both and stick to whatever we're happy with in the end.
 
Thesaurus rex
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I find that writing organically is fine for one-shots, but in a longer story I really need some sort of a plan to keep it in order. Case in point - A Da Vinci Smile has maybe a side of A4's worth of associated notes, and most of it was written pretty much straight from imagination. The Long Walk, however, is at about 25 sides of A4 as far as notes are concerned. When I have writers block I need a good plan so I know what I need to bully myself into writing
 
Don't Look Away
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I do like to plan the plot ahead for the most part. Unfortunately I have to learn to actually write things down because I forget a lot of the things I plan most of the plan and then I have trouble remembering it. Other than when it comes to writing my chapters it really depends, there's a lot of chapters that start off as just ideas but aren't very planned out, which is why it takes time for me to write them down.
 
make a wish ★
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I like to go in with some sort of plan, a summary of sorts that reminds me what the chapter's about while I'm writing. It's very rare that I go more in depth with plans for chapters, but I like to have an idea of what I'm doing before I write. I've learned that writing with an idea in mind and working from there tends to work out loads better than just going in blind and writing from memory.
 
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