If you are writing for children, we have put together a post on how to structure your children’s story.
How To Structure Your Children’s Story
Begin. Pause. Play. Fast Forward. End.
This post will show you how to structure a five-chapter novel. This formula can be adapted for chapter books of all ages. Books for older children and young adults are longer, with more chapters and many more scenes, but the structure of the novel remains the same.
Chapter 1 – Begin
- Introduce the main character.
- Situate the story.
- Present the problem.
- Begin with a bang.
- Make the reader want more.
We introduce the characters here. We introduce the setting. We present the protagonist with a problem. This is where an event (also called an inciting moment) occurs that changes the status quo. As a result of this your character has to react and this creates a story goal.
Fairy Tales Tips
The classic fairy tales offer good examples of how to start a book. Begin where the character experiences the crisis that will determine his or her actions.
Examples Of Inciting Moments:
- A character is born with an unusual physical quality.
- A character has no money.
- A couple want a child but can’t have one.
Chapter 2 – Pause
- The protagonist will feel the effects of whatever happened in Chapter 1. He or she will need time for reflection, but do not overdo this as you will bore the reader.
- This is the time to make plans and decide what to do next.
- The pace picks up as the chapter ends.
If there was a change in Chapter 1, the character will process it and realise the seriousness of the situation. This is a classic sequel (or reaction scene) chapter.
Chapter 3 – Play
- Introduce additional characters.
- Include lots of action.
- End your scenes with hangers, including the dilemmas your characters face.
This is the longest part of your book. Use complications and new events to move the plot forward. Write these events as scenes, which are linked by scene breaks. Scene breaks will be presented as spaces, with or without symbols like these *** in the final book.
Chapter 4 – Fast Forward
- Start this chapter with a major event, gain, or loss.
- Allow the character a short period of time to reflect, plan, and consolidate.
- He or she must then move forward to try to achieve the story goal.
This chapter includes the climax of the story. It is the point of no return. It is usually the most action-packed part of the book. It is the part where the drama builds, where discoveries are made, goals achieved, mysteries solved, and secrets revealed.
Chapter 5 – End
- Tie up loose ends.
- Good must prevail and evil must be punished, especially for younger children.
- Show that there is life after the climax of the story.
The kind of ending you choose will depend on the genre, age group, and the tone of the book. The younger the reader, the happier the ending should be.