How To Structure A Novel Chapter?

A strong plot structure is the base of an engaging novel. Unlike short stories, novels demand a significant amount of time to complete, which is why novels need to possess an enthralling narrative that keeps the readers hooked from beginning to end.

For some people, it’s an interesting storyline. For some, it’s that fun character. But one thing that actually makes a novel readable is its consistency and breaks. If you break the narrative at the wrong point, it can break the reader’s tempo, and they can leave the book in the middle.

So, to make sure that your novel hits the specific beats and has an engaging pace, you need to create a balance between narration and scenes. This means that you have to break it into chapters. Hancock Ghostwriters offers professional book ghostwriting services and has the perfect guide on how to structure a novel chapter.

8 Tips On How To Structure A Novel Chapter

When you divide the whole novel into parts, those parts are called chapters. Each chapter acts as a story that compiles and leads the reader toward the bigger narrative. It is the reason why each chapter must have a proper structure with a beginning, a middle, an end, and a goal.

The goal of a chapter does not have to be humongous. It could be as simple as introducing the main character into the story. To better understand the structure, let us break down the tips on how to structure a novel by chapter:

1. Open With Action

The action does not mean that your character must be having a brawl with someone. We suggest that instead of opening your chapter with your character waking up by the alarm or just laying in bed, you open the chapter where it shows some sort of urgency or movement.

It catches the readers from the beginning and shows that your characters are ready to go instead of sitting or lying around looking at the clock or just vibing deep into their thoughts. You can even start the chapter where your character is already in the middle of a conversation with someone.

It will show a continuous action and will grab the reader from the start.

2. Leave Suspense At The End

What makes you crave the new season of your favorite TV show? The cliffhanger is left at the end for you. It is the same case with novels. If you end a chapter with a cliffhanger, it will not only keep the readers more invested in the novel but also bring the reader back to read the next chapter.

The cliffhanger does not have to be a huge suspense. It could be something as simple as entering a mysterious character into the story. But keep in mind that a cliffhanger does not mean that you leave an event in the middle.

It is considered bad writing. In a cliffhanger, you tease a bit of what your readers should expect in the upcoming chapter.

3. Give Each Chapter A Goal

You cannot decide the chapter’s goal while writing it, which is why when you craft an outline, you need to think about what type of goal this chapter must have. It could be to introduce the protagonist or show them building a better relationship with other characters.

If you are writing a fiction novel, then you can do the following:

  • Use the first chapter to introduce the main characters.
  • Then give the readers an insider of what their life is like.
  • Once everything seems fun and colorful, leave a hint of your main dispute, which in the case of fiction, is mostly an evil person.
  • And then take your story forward by letting the evil in on the story bit by bit, and show how your main characters deal with them. Leading the story to the big picture.

4. Use Chapter Titles

Your chapter titles are not only checkpoints for your readers to make sure that they are heading toward the end. They can even be a summary of what the readers should expect from the upcoming chapter.

When writing fiction novels, the majority of authors name their chapters as “Chapter 1, 2, 3….” But you can always get creative with names and come up with something that teases what is to be expected in the chapter.

For example, if it is the final chapter and there is an epic battle in it, you can name it something that teases a great battle, like “The Final Showdown” or “The Epic Ending.”

5. Take Care Of The Pacing

A chapter’s length lays the foundation of the novel’s pace. If the chapter is long, it gives you the ground to go into detail. You can even play flashbacks to develop the story’s pace. Whereas a short chapter, mainly used in thriller fiction, is filled with quick actions and results.

The fast pace keeps building the tension, and the readers jump to the next page in minutes to find out what happens next. You can even add a chapter in the middle, before the big dispute, to allow your main character to recap every event that has happened till this point and figure out a strategy to defeat their enemy.

Questioning the effectiveness of your transitions between chapters? Our seamless integration strategies will keep readers engaged.

6. Let Different Characters Take The Driving Seat

The majority of fiction novels are written in a third-person perspective. A third-person perspective is where an external voice, a.k.a; the voice of a god, narrates the whole book to the readers. It portrays the book’s narrative through this voice’s perspective.

But if you want to make your chapters more interesting and personal, you can allow your characters to narrate each chapter. For example, if the chapter is about one of your secondary characters, then why not allow them to take the wheel and speak in their own voice?

This switch of narrators will provide your novel with a variety of characteristics, where each chapter will reflect your character’s inner voice, how they feel about a certain situation, and what makes them stand out among the rest of your characters.

7. Look For Balance

A book’s chapter is based on two narrations. It is either a scene or a dramatic narration. In a scene, you show your characters performing a certain task or just having a chat session with another character. Whereas a dramatic narration is where the narrator tells the readers about the character’s actions.

Why have we divided these narrations into two types? Because it helps with ensuring balance within the chapter. To get a clear idea, once you finish writing a page, we suggest that you do an activity. You highlight the dramatic narrations of the event and leave the scenes unmarked.

Once you are done, you look at the whole event and see if there is any imbalance in there. Do you have more dramatic narrations than scenes? Is one thing overpowering the other? If yes, then we suggest that you add whatever is less and balance it out.

A balanced narration keeps your readers sane and sorted. Too many dramatic scenes overwhelm them, and more conversational or mild scenes bore them.

8. Fix Your Chapter Breaks In Later Drafts

As we discussed in our article about How to Write Your First Draft, you need to keep it as vague and imperfect as you can. Do not get too involved in making complete sense of your story on the first try. It is supposed to be broken.

No matter how much you try to make it perfect, your first draft will always undergo many changes and edits in later phases. So, we suggest that you focus on finishing the story first. Once you have your complete story, then you can make changes and edit chapter breaks.

If you think that your chapter breaks provide you with a good structure, then go with them, and complete the book. But make sure that the draft is proofread by a professional to see whether these chapter breaks justify the content or not.

Why Is Chapter Structure In A Novel Important?

Structuring a chapter novel is an important aspect of a novel for various reasons, such as:

  • Chapters organize your novel’s content. They manage to break the whole story into sections which allow the author to take charge of the narrative’s pace. A well-structured chapter will give a sense of progress and will keep readers interested in the story.
  • Every chapter acts as a transition from one section to another, leading the way toward the final act of the novel. A new chapter also allows the author to change the scenario, location, time, and even perspective. Preventing the readers from getting confused.
  • Chapters are like a toll station of a novel. They allow readers to pause and take a break from reading without losing track of their progress. Chapters are extremely important for long novels as reading a lot of text can overwhelm the readers.
  • Well-placed chapter breaks leave the readers with suspense and curiosity. It makes them eager to turn the page and find out what happens next. If you place the cliffhangers at the end of a chapter with care, you can easily anticipate your readers.
  • A chapter keeps the author focused and keeps them organized while writing the novel. They can easily plan their writing schedule and craft an outline highlighting the main events of that chapter. This outline then acts as a compass to keep the story consistent.
  • Chapters can be used to tackle one issue at a time. You do not have to put the whole story out in the first chapter. Instead, you can easily take one problem at a time. Introduce it in one chapter and then solve it in the other.

How Long Should Your Chapter Be?

The length of a novel’s chapter completely depends on the author’s style, the specific need of the narrative, and the genre. There is no hard and fast rule on how long your chapters should be, as in the end, it comes down to personal choice and the narrative’s demand.

If your novel has a fast-paced story with more action than scenes, your chapters will be as short as 10 pages. The story is frequent, and each event happens quickly without any delay. The only problem with short chapters is that you can not dive deep into the details.

You have to keep everything very easy and quick. Meaning your story must not depend on a memory from the past. The problem must be born and resolved in the present. Otherwise, the readers will not be able to understand the narrative with missing information.

Whereas, if you think your story needs the support of a backstory and you will have to reveal the events of the past, you can always extend your chapters to 25 to 30 pages. It will allow you to be as descriptive as you want.

But remember that the information you provide in these long chapters must have a purpose. Unnecessarily long chapters can drain your readers, and they will not be able to finish a single chapter in one sitting.

It does not matter whether your chapter is 10 pages long or 30 pages. It is enough if it fills the purpose, makes your story engaging, and entertains your audience. So, as an author, you should be more concerned about your story than your chapter’s length.

Hire A Professional For Structuring A Novel Chapter

A good narrative depends on its chapter structure. Suppose your chapters are not well-written and correctly broken. In that case, it can not only affect the narrative but also make your story boring and lose its pace, which is why you must structure each chapter correctly.

It is perfectly fine if you are getting overwhelmed with the writing process. You can always hire a professional like Hancock Ghostwriters to structure a novel chapter for you. They have worked with some famous authors and have helped them structure their novels.

They understand how much your work matters to you, which is why the writers at Hancock Ghostwriters treat each book as one of their own and ensure that it is well-structured and flawless.

Wrapping Up…

Chapters provide your readers with a complete guide of what they should expect from each section, how far they have come, and what will be the pace of your novel. So, use this guide if you have any confusion regarding the structure of a novel chapter. You can also hire a professional to do the job for you.

Once you’re sorted on how to structure a novel chapter, read our blog on how to plot a novel to streamline your entire writing journey. 

Has your dream book been simmering in your mind? Let our skilled ghostwriters bring it to life.


How should a novel be structured?

A novel should be structured with an engaging opening that draws the reader in, a middle section that develops the plot and characters, and a satisfying conclusion that ties everything together.

How do you divide chapters?

Divide chapters based on plot progression, character development, or setting changes. Chapters should be of a manageable length and end with a cliffhanger or revelation to keep the reader engaged.

How many chapters is a page?

The number of chapters per page is highly variable and depends on the author’s style, the genre, and the font and line spacing used. In general, chapters are between 500 and 3000 words long, which translates to around 2 to 12 pages per chapter.

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