As I go through this movie perspective in my mind’s eye I try to determine if everything within the chapter has merit to the story, to the characters and to the series. I want to skip anything that really doesn’t add to this overall feeling and character building of the overall story. While my main character might love to play with “My Pretty Ponies” or some such out of contexts nonsense, unless there is a very important reason to bring it up within the confines of the scene itself to enhance some specific part of the overall story, then usually it’s not something that needs to be discussed. Another important aspect is character explanations. Sometimes too much detail is exactly that … too much detail, at least if you give it to your reader all at once. You can give some basic information at the opening scene of a chapter when introducing a new character, but then for the additional details that you want to cover can fill in within the confines of the story in bits and pieces that add to the overall flavor of the character.
Again most characteristics that you cover should in some way add into flow of the story and to building up the characters and scenes that you’re describing and writing about. There will be some times that the story dips and slows down in-between climatic scenes, but even then these scenes should add to the story so that when the action ramps back up you explained or discussed the additional details ahead of time that allows the action to flow within a meaningful way.
Also the closing scene of most chapters should have at the very least mini-cliff hangers. The switch to another part of the story should leave your readers wanting to know what’s going on and waiting to get back to the action to see what happens to the characters. Another reason you want the beginning of the new chapter to catch their attention enough so they don’t flip ahead to see what’s happening, but the important part I want to leave you with is making that ending of the chapter to be left at a spot that makes you want to rush back and see what’s happening.
I was watching Teen Wolf, an excellent series which does a masterful job at these cliff hangers throughout the different scenes of the story and at the end of that week’s show. 24 is another series that comes to mind that rocks this too. Probably 24 is the better of the two examples I just listed. If you really want to really get the feel for how to do these chapter intros and exits that leave your readers wanting more, I serious suggest you check out 24. Both new and old does this extremely well.
Lastly I want to leave you with this thought. You don’t normally write the perfect scene immediately. Most writers don’t sit down to every scene and just write it out in one sitting. Even if you pictured every aspect of the scene, you still have to work to get the right flow and perspective to each scene. Don’t rush this. Sometimes it might take days for you to get the perfect structure down on paper and that’s okay. Many times I write down something quick, and then slowly build on it to make it better. Other times I write the whole thing out in one setting, and then later still go back and tweak it. It just depends on the scene and how much prep time I’ve put into the whole mental scene building process ahead of time, and the overall complexity of that area of the story.
So many writers talk about making sure you write two to three hundred words a day to make sure you produce a book within a short amount of time, but from my own experience this seems to be counterproductive, in many ways, to writing a great story. Few of us actually the time and ability to write for a living, although we hope to have this opportunity in the future as our writing matures. There will be those times we produce a lot of our story in one sitting, while at other times we struggle to write certain scenes the way we want. But, that is okay. I don’t think rushing your writing is the answer to producing a good story. Throughout my day when I’m not in the physical process of writing, I actually picture the scene I’m currently writing to get a clear picture of the scene I’m trying to write. I find that this is a great exercise to do while I’m driving. One of the few times I have the peace of mind to actually picture the part of the story I’m trying to write and get the mental image of what’s happening before I actually sit down to write the scene.
These preparations times I believe are important if you are going to have an amazing story and be a great writer. A good story needs to have this quality and depth, which only comes from putting this forethought into your writing ahead of time. For this reason alone I’m against the daily word count that so many writers and writing groups love to tell new writers that they must do to be a good writer.
Anyway, I hope some of these perspectives on my own writing process helps to improve your own writing.