Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Final thoughts on the first three chapters

For those who might be just joining us here on Go Teen Writers, this year we're walking through the novel writing process. There's a tab at the top called Write Now 2011 that has details and links to the post in the series. But basically, I'm going step by step through my novel writing process. Which is an ever-evolving system.

First we did lots of what many call "composting." We gathered ideas and thought through our characters and plot. Then last month we dove into mechanics of writing the first draft. I shared with you guys that after composting, I write my first three chapters (click here to read that post) before I do any plotting. Writing those chapters helps me get a better feel of my characters and potential conflict, which I've found is crucial to my process.

I want to say one last thing about writing those first three chapters and then we'll move on. When agents and editors request "a book proposal" from you, they mean the first three chapters of your novel and a 1-2 page synopsis. (Which we'll talk about later.) What does this tell you about how you should end chapter three?


The end of chapter three is an excellent time to throw in a plot twist. Or have something major and important revealed. You want the agent/editor to finish reading chapter three and think, "I need more right now! Where's that author's phone number?"

Now that's a good phone call.

After I've written my first three chapters, I do the following:

Give myself a couple days off.
You might not find this step necessary; it just depends on your situation in life. If I've just pushed myself to finish the first three chapters, it likely means laundry has piled up, emails are languishing in my inbox, and so on. Before I can press on with the novel, I require a couple days to take care of some life-stuff.

Character chart
This is something I've done for the first time with my WIP (work in progress) and I'm digging the results. We'll talk about it on Friday.

I am the rare writer who looooooves writing the synopsis. More later on why.

Scene breakdown
This is also something I'm doing for the first time with my WIP. So, while I don't know how well it'll work for me or if it'll find a place in my permanent routine, I'll at least share it with you.

After I've written the first three chapters and my synopsis, I have a decent idea about research that might need to take place. Research can be done a variety of ways, and we'll talk about that too.

See you guys back here on Friday to talk about character charts!


  1. You're learning with us! & I like that you stop every once & a while do give a brief overview of what was already covered! I learn things the second time around too

  2. Step, I didn't recieve any emails the last time and realized that you must not have gettin my writing prompt. Have you gotten it this time? Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Tonya! That's as much for my benefit as yours :)

    Jaedyn, sorry about last time. You're right, I didn't receive it. I just sent a confirmation to a Jaedyn ... hopefully it was you :)

  4. Thanks I got it!! :)

  5. Hi, I am new to this writing thing and I am working on my first novel. I am almost done and plan to finish next month with everything but honestly sometimes I go back to the beginning of my story and I realize it would not catch any one's attention. How can I change up the story to make it more interesting? Can I send it to you to check? Is there anything? I want to make this book really amazing but it's just the beginning I do not like.