How To Give Each Chapter of Your Novel Purpose

Hello, fellow Human!

Today the two of us are talking about how we always end up writing filler chapters into our work in progress and even outlines. Luckily I came up with a solution that works brilliantly for me and I hope helps you too.

The Annoying Problem of Fillers

It’s a common trend I noticed as I outlined my NaNoWriMo novel to have entire chapters dedicated to nothing that furthered my story in any way shape or form. They were

✨ p o i n t l e s s ✨

I realised it’s because I want to write the easy things that will bring up my word count even if they’re completely boring, pointless and useless to my story. But more so I want to write a marvellous, meaningful book and I know that you do too.

If you’re anything like me you want to have your readers falling deeper and deeper in love with your world and characters every single chapter, even if that’s far harder to write. And you know that the filler chapters aren’t going to do that.

My Step-by-Step Method For Avoiding Fillers

To help me make each chapter matter to my character and reader I need to make a very short summary of goals; first for my protagonist/s, antagonist, and any other important characters, then one for the actual story-this will largely overlap with the former but not be 100% identical.

  • I take a large-ish sized sticky note (or paper around that size) and write the chapter title or number so that I have enough space to plan a good chapter, but I’m limited to keeping it to the important things and not going off track like I usually do when I’m doing the major outline. For example, I can often then get carried away with just spewing out words into the long outline if I don’t have these sticky notes.
  • Then I write down what needs to happen to the MC/what needs to be shown about the MC (or similar) next in the story.
  • I try to have about 3 points per chapter and I like to note any new characters or places that are going to be introduced or anything of significance that’s going to happen in that chapter as well as.  Usually, these points are kept to two lines.  
  • And then I use a highlighter to draw attention to any overarching, main points if there are any.  I know that this may seem like overkill to you, but I enjoy doing it and feel like it helps me weave everything together with a more pleasing stitch. 
  • One last thing I do add in these cards that may not have already been added in the points is that I include are things to foreshadow if they already haven’t been foreshadowed through other points.

By doing this I’m limited to the size of the paper (though I will use more than one sticky note if I need it, there’s no rule against that) and it limits me to just put the good stuff into the story instead of gross pickles the reader is left to pick out*.

*Or we, writers, must edit out.  Speaking of editing, I’m going to have a post about that soon so be to subscribe.

Fillers vs Fluff

I just do want to mention that I don’t think that fillers and fluff are always the same things.  Most filler chapters are composed only of fluff, yes, but when done right fluff can be extremely cute and enjoyable to read and write.

This is an interesting argument and I’m currently drafting out an entire blog post about it so make sure you subscribe if you don’t want to miss it. 

Now I’ve talked your ear off so feel free to leave your thoughts and ideas about this down below.  Have a great week and stay safe.  Cya next week-or in the comments now that I am finally back from my unplanned hiatus due to exams-they are over at long last.

¬Belle

3 thoughts on “How To Give Each Chapter of Your Novel Purpose

  1. I am definitely guilty of this, probably because I’m a pantser more than anything else. I guess that’s why I hate the editing part so much. Great tips here, and tools like Scrivener really do help with all that you’ve mentioned. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Like

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