A trick to jumpstarting your next chapter

Yesterday, I showed you a little trick I use to keep the momentum going between chapters.

Here’s how I’m going to apply that trick!

After I interview my character and let him take a little breather to recoup for the next scene, I begin to mull this interview over and take notes. (you do keep a book buddy beside you to help you write your chapters, right?)



Here are my loose notes on the next scene:

  • Luke POV.  Show that Kenzie is trying to not be a burden, but she’s bored.  Maybe he finds her acting out a scene?
  • Keep up with the suspense thread….what is happening with Dark Secret?  Does he Google the book?  Does she see it?
  • Have her in town, doing something mundane like the laundry…getting back to her roots.
  • Does he google her?  Maybe he researches her past?

Now that I’ve checked in with Luke, I want to take a look at the synopsis, just to make sure I’m not veering way off base.


Luke POV

Kenzie can’t believe the lies the media can pile up.   And sitting around this cabin isn’t relaxing…it’s suffocating.  Not only that, her cell phone doesn’t work, and there isn’t a even a radio.  And it would help if Luke didn’t treat her like a prisoner.  So she burned supper – she could cook, just hadn’t done it for a while.  And, okay, maybe she shouldn’t have shrunk his wool sweater…that was an accident.  How was she supposed to remember that wool shrunk in a dryer?  It’s bad enough she’s doing laundry in town, at a Laundromat, but she hasn’t worn wool in years.  Ever, maybe.

She needs a decent meal – preferably away from Luke’s dead zone cabin in the woods.

Fine.  Luke relents and takes her to a local roadhouse where they’re having open mic night. He probably shouldn’t be surprised that Kenzie wants to get up and sing, but most of all, he can’t believe that he finds himself up right next to her, singing an old Sonny and Cher song.  What’s wrong with him?

Maybe he’s going stir crazy.   Yes, maybe they’ve been sitting around the cabin too long (forty eight hours can seem like an eternity with a woman who can quote every line from the Princess Bride).  Luke takes her on a hike up the Appalachian Trail, hoping to distract her.

Okay, and yes, she makes him laugh.  And, on the hike he realizes there is more to MacKenzie Grace than the tabloids make her out to be.  She’s refreshing in the way she sees the world – as if it is something to be experienced, even devoured.  She thrives on discovery…and Luke finds his skills as park ranger appreciated for more than just clearing forests and tracking down poachers.

Maybe bodyguard duty isn’t such a chore…


Okay, so I’m right…we need to veer into the romance a bit.  But, although I wrote they are going for a hike, I’m shortening the book a bit, so I’m going to fast forward to the roadhouse scene, keeping the goals overall intact.


Based on those thoughts, I’ve established the following Author Goals:


Suspense:  In this chapter, I want to ramp up the suspense – put in that sense of danger from his side of the story.  I’ll do this by continuing the threat of exposure by having an article published about him, and thereby alerting the people who want to find him.


Romance:  Now that Kenzie is interested in him, I need to make Kenzie appealing to Luke.  And, because I’m going to keep this novel fairly short (for the blog purposes), I’ll also weave in another essential element – like connecting them at a value level.  So, I’d like Luke to Google her and learn about Kenzie, and realize she has a past not unlike his own, and that she loves her family.


Inner Journey: For Luke, who believes that he’s better off alone I’m going to start dropping in truthlets that perhaps being with Kenzie is a good thing for him.


Character Change Roadmap:  We’re still at the attempt/failure step of Act 2, so his goal is to stay under the radar – we’ll expose him here.  His deeper character goal is to shake free of the past and heal.  We’ll then drag up the past and make him think he can never heal.


Action Objective:  We’ll have him realize he’s in danger, and yet Kenzie will show up with a flyer for the roadhouse and ask to go.  We’ll also bring his family – touch base with his sister as he checks on his father (showing again his protective nature).


Now, I’ll put this all in my Scene Starter:  (SHARP)

Stakes – He needs to protect her, but she is about to burn out, also.  She can’t spend another day there, and she decides to go to the roadhouse, so he’ll have to go with her.

Hero ID – Frustration over the fact he’s being muzzled, but also the sense that he isn’t in control (like when he was imprisoned in Columbia).  And, he has this woman who has a mind of her own (not unlike the little boy who was killed helping the escape.)

Anchoring – it’s a beautiful day out, spring is here, but he’s trapped inside (a metaphor of how he feels).  Kenzie drives up in her car (she’d left hers at the station) in between doing laundry.

Run – the paper is on the table, it’s been 4 days, and he thinks everything is fine until he sees the article.

Problem – She is going stir crazy, but he has to protect her.


And, the first line?

The woman was trying to get him killed. 

 Read the Chapter Here! Chapter 5 Luke

Hope my notes and tricks help!  Have a great writing week!

Susie May


**a note – for those who read this blog regularly – next year, we’ll be applying editing techniques to this novel, doing a three-pass editing technique I use, so, not only is this the rough draft, but next year we’ll be focusing on a Spit and Polish: Editing yourself to Publication series.

See you next week as we move into the middle of Act 2, more romance, more suspense, and a journey toward real character change.


Act 2: How to keep the Momentum Going between chapters?

Would you like a trick to keep the momentum going between chapters?

One of my biggest frustrations in writing a novel is that I can’t write it all in one sitting.  Seriously.  I’ve tried.  I once wrote a novel in 10 days.  But even then, I had to sleep, eat…maybe have a conversation with the other people in the house.  Still, it was the closest thing to being able to simply step into the story and download it from my brain.  I love being able to write a novel in a concentrated amount of time because the storyline is never far from me and while it’s exhausting, the story always seems to emerge with fewer jolts in the plot.

However, like most authors, I have a busy schedule filled with PR and speaking and teaching events. I also spend at least two days per week focusing on My Book Therapy.  Often I only have two or three days to really sit down and dive into a book.


Which means I might find myself struggling to climb back inside a character’s head as I start writing. In the days when I was homeschooling, I learned a trick that I employ to this day that keeps my momentum going.
After a chapter is over, I quickly interview the POV character whose scene I will write next.

I ask him/her the following questions.

  1. What did you think about what just happened?
  2. What are your choices?
  3. What will you do next, and why?
  4. What is the one thing you fear happening?
  5. And, if it’s a romance –how do you feel about this person?  What is the one thing you fear happening Emotionally?

It simply helps me get into his/her head and start mulling over the next scene as I go about driving my kids to football practice, or getting on an airplane to speak at an event.

Here are my notes for Luke, who is about to make an appearance in Chapter 5. Continue reading “Act 2: How to keep the Momentum Going between chapters?”