To have a balanced well-written story it’s essential to map it out. You can of course do this as you go. A better approach is to complete your map before you begin writing. My method is a story skeleton, as follows: 1. SYNOPSIS Begin with the synopsis. Usually no more than a page of work that outlines the main story from start to finish. This gives a firm base from which to build your full story. 2. Beginning the Skeleton Now start your story skeleton by writing each chapter number as a heading and bulleting sections, 1-3 beneath each heading. Note: ‘Twenty to twenty-five chapters tends to get you sixty to seventy thousand words. Thirty chapters plus will get you around the hundred thousand mark, when completed.’ to roughly guide you. 3. Breaking the Synopsis Here you must break the synopsis into individual events. Insert each event into the number one slots of your chapter skeleton. Note: ‘Do this working in pencil as you may feel the need to move or add some as you go along. Characters have a habit of changing the story on you!’ Remember here that some events may cross more than one chapter to add cliff-hanger points or to bring other events in line with them. Use arrows to link those as needs be. 4. Structuring the Story Don’t try to force events into every chapter for not all of them will focus on the main story. Just put in what you can, where it needs to go on the chapter timeline. Thinking about the structure and drama as you go to get the flow right. 5. The Second Section: Side Story Next, a good story always has side stories entwined within it. Add the scenes for that into the number two section of the chapter skeleton. Again, not every chapter will have these, just add in what you have where it fits in the skeleton and story timeline. 6. The Third Section Now on to the skeleton is the third section. This is for any events, scenes or occurrences you wish to include in the chapter. Little happenings that don’t pertain to the main or side story as such. Drop those into the number three sections again where you need them. 7. Completing your skeleton That’s your skeleton laid out. You now have a good vision for your whole story. Spend time checking this and moving events about as needed until you feel happy with it. Don’t worry about a thing here. You can always split and add chapters or remove them as you go along. Your skeleton is merely your story guide to help you stay on course and get the bestseller written. Well done, Writer. That’s the first part of your journey completed. we can now plan our chapter. Mapping and Writing Chapters. We’ll take a chapter from the skeleton and we’ll say we gave it three events for this example of the skeleton method. The First Phase Aligning and entwining events chronologically or in a way that’ll make the best sense to the reader. Do this in a way that drives our reader into and through the chapter. Remember these points. Beginning Begin at a place that will immediately intrigue your reader and make them want to read the story. If this is not the first chapter, start at a place that will show continuity from the previous chapter. For the following chapters try finding a point that creates a nice shift from the previous to a new time, place, or perspective. Opening Scene Let the first few lines or opening scene inform the readers as to what’s to come in the chapter. Hooking the Reader Hook the reader into moving on into the story. Dialogue is a good way to do this. It gets the reader straight into the action. It can give immediate questions and interest to a reader, where preamble or long description may bore our precious reader. The Second Phase Chain nicely into events two and three ensuring the pace and flow is satisfying. Here are a few good ways and tips to do this: 1. Use many different and varying ways to keep the story moving, unexpected, and interesting. 2. Break suddenly into the next event at times. 3. Use different character or narrator points of view. 4. Use the surroundings or places to move from event to event. The third phase End your chapter well. It needs both climax and desire to read on. There are many ways to do that, like these: 1. End it with a big question. 2. End with a thrilling cliffhanger. 3. An unexpected event like a risky kiss could potentially provide a great ending. 4. Create a 'what happens next!' moment. 5. Never end a chapter on a low point or in a place that feels like nothing is happening. This will kill momentum and possibly cause the reader to put the book down. Remember our events that may cross two or more chapters here creating cliffhanger moments with ease. Just remember to follow your skeleton arrows so to save you needing to repair a scene that you ended and shouldn’t have later. (I’ve done this, it’s the ultimate writer's momentum killer!) The Last Chapter The last chapter is a little different. Here you must bring your story to a close in a way that leaves the reader feeling awed by the story and pleased to have read it. We want them desperate to read more. Consider these facts when writing that last chapter: 1. End on a high note 2. Are you planning a sequel? If so leave a tantalizing clue as to what’s coming soon. 3. End with reference to something that happened at the beginning. This gives a sense of coming full circle in a story and is often pleasing. 4. Don’t necessarily answer all the questions you raised. Give the reader something to ponder beyond the end of the book. It’ll leave them wanting more and enjoying the thought process, keeping you in their minds for longer. Short Chapters Lastly, where only one or two events appear in a chapter. Break the events down into individual parts and timeline them. Then they to will be conformable to the above plan. Although it will be a slightly smaller chapter, it is no bad thing for the following reasons: 1. Short chapters tend to have less description and be more action-filled and fast-paced. 2. ·Longer chapters tend to be description and dialogue filled. Be careful not to be over heavy with either or the reader may grow tired of the story before the chapter ends. 3. Varying chapter lengths will increase and decrease pace with the story flow. 4. ·Chapters of equal length tend to make the reader expect the end to come which can lead to boredom. Let the chapter’s individual story dictate its length. Then just flesh it out, or thin it down to make it flow nicely. It’s good practice to edit each chapter as an individual piece. This gives you a view and feel of how it alone flows and reads. Then you can edit the story as a whole to ensure it comes together as the masterpiece you hoped for when you first picked up your pen. Most importantly enjoy the process. If you do, your readers will enjoy what you wrote. Happy writing!