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Writing Books/What defines chapters


I'm writing a memoir and I'm used to writing screenplays so I have no idea when to stop a chapter and when to start another.

Thanks so much.

Hi, Lynn!

A chapter is defined as a break in the action--sort of like a scene break in screenplays or an Act in stage plays. It's best used to add tension or take a break after tension. For example, you can end a chapter in the middle of a crisis to raise tension:

"He watched as the sword swept toward him. This could be the end." -- Chapter Break

Or at the end of a crisis to let the reader know they can relax:

"I was exhausted. The only thing I wanted to do after that battle was crawl into bed." -- Chapter Break

You can then move forward in time or change character point of view without it being confusing to the reader.

Does that help any, or just raise more questions? Let me know if I can help further and good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


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