Jun 3, 2011
This is a general model, so not every chapter will look just like this, but it's always where I start.
Every chapter has a place and a purpose in the book. Together, chapters blend with and reflect each other to tell the bigger story of the novel.
I often see the larger story taking shape around a series of Aha! moments. It's the purpose of the individual chapter to show how a character reaches that moment and how the response builds to the next rising action (and the next Aha!).
Sometimes I don't end with the resolution itself, but rather with the promise of a resolution. The reader has to move into the next chapter to find out what the character decides and what problems arise--and thus the action rises again.
Even when this is the case, I plot with the resolution of the chapter on the card detailing the chapter purpose. I can always go back and change the chapter divisions later.
With this model, every chapter has a strong internal structure and a purpose within the novel. Even though I'm seldom able to envision all the details of a novel at one time, I'm always able to see the details of an entire chapter. If I know the chapters flow together well to tell the story, I can focus on making that chapter the best it can be. Strong chapters make strong novels.
Many thanks to Ruth for asking the question