Friday, February 25, 2011

What about chapter two?

None of my writing books talk about chapter two. Maybe there's a reason for it, and this is an irrelevant post, but I had a few thoughts I'd like to share about what I feel has worked for me. Is it a rule? No. Do I always do this? No. But generally, I feel this system works.

Once you've written your exciting first chapter and given your reader an idea of who your main character is, what his/her world is like ... where do you go then?

If you're writing in multiple POVs, it often works well for chapter two to introduce another POV character. In romances, particularly, I see it done where chapter one is from the heroine's POV and chapter two from the hero's. Again, not a rule, but many romance writers feel this works best. My manuscripts are - with one exception - in first person, so thus far this has been a non-issue for me.

But what I find works for a second chapter - regardless of third person, first person, omniscient - is to throw the reader into another aspect of the story. By which I mean if the first chapter was about your main character (MC) saving someone's life at the hospital where she works as a nurse, consider having the second chapter take place at karaoke night where she's trying to get discovered. Or if your MC is surrounded with friends in the first chapter, have them hanging out with their family in the second. Or with enemies.

Rather than carrying on the scene you set up in chapter one, give the reader something new to look at. (I know you're not supposed to end a sentence with "at" but "at which to look" sounds weird to me. Maybe that's because I live in Kansas, and I've grown used to people ending sentences with "at." Anyway.) Of course your character can still be reeling from chapter one. She or he should carry those emotions they felt into chapter two, but dropping us into another facet of the story can be very engaging.

Hope you guys have a great weekend. Check back here on Monday for a new writing prompt!


  1. Have you written any posts about your favorite writing books? I know you talk about some

  2. Wow, I actually did something right before gpbeing told to! In my current WIP the first chapter has the MC out of her element among peers, then in second she's at home with her large family.

  3. Jordan, I love it when I discover I've done something right by instinct!

    Tonya, yes I have: