We’ve all read books where the story has dragged in the middle, and for some of us that might have meant putting the book down. As a writer it can be hard to avoid this, but not impossible. The beginning and the end of a story are the exciting bits, but the middle requires most of the hard work. How do you write and edit it to keep it interesting for the reader? Here’s a few tips to get you started.
End every chapter on a cliff hanger
It doesn’t have to be anything big or vital to the plot, just something small that leaves a question waiting to be answered. If the chapter comes to an end all wrapped up in a bow the reader is much more likely to close the book and put it down, perhaps never to be picked up again. If the chapter ends on a cliff hanger though it will make the reader want to keep reading to find out what happens. And of course one chapter ending will lead to another then another until they’ve got to the end of the book.
Make something happen
If you’re getting bored writing it, imagine how bored your reader will get reading it. If there’s nothing of any significance in the chapter, just scrap it. Each chapter needs to either move the story forwards or develop an important character. If it does neither of these then why is it there? What is its purpose? Remember, there’s a reason we don’t know anything about Frodo’s Great Aunt Mathilda.
Don’t make your chapters too long
Believe it or not, readers notice when they haven’t seen a chapter break for a while. I’ve sometimes been reading and found myself thinking I’ve missed the new chapter starting and gone back to search for it. Unless you have a very specific reason that’s vital to the story, I would say don’t make any chapter longer than 20 pages. Imagine your lovely readers, snuggling up for a reading session before bed and telling themselves they’ll just read the one chapter, only to find that the end is one or two hours away. The length of the chapter could even give the impression that the story is dragging, whether it is or not.
If you follow these tips then your story should keep the reader interested right until the end. Doing this could also help you finish writing your story, something that a lot of writers find a challenge.
Have you ever read a book that you just couldn’t put down? Tell us what it is in the comments below.