- It must move the plot forward.
- Keep it to 1000-2500 words, but up to 5,000 is acceptable. If you’re chapters are too long, start cutting.
- Don’t deviate from the central plot for more than one full chapter, you don’t want the audience to forget what they’re supposed to be reading about.
- Be mindful when you introduce new (important) characters, give them enough attention to make them memorable, and don’t forget about them for a few chapters after you introduce them, or your readers will too.
- End on a cliffhanger or action. Cliffhanger does not mean someone is in peril every chapter, it means there’s risk or change in whatever is happening. A new clue points the case in a new direction (change), two people take a step in their relationship (risk & change), someone makes an admission that churns the water (risk). These don’t have to be major, like someone admitting that they’re gay, it could just be admitting they lied about something.
- Treat each chapter like a mini-story, in that where it begins and ends is meaningful.
- Pay as much attention to where you place breaks within chapters as you do to where you end chapters.
- Sweat the details, but don’t rip your hair out. If you aren’t writing it all out beforehand, which most fanfic writers don’t, then you need to be careful and deliberate with each new chapter. If you do write it out beforehand, then you can leave the sweating for your next draft.
Chaptered stories come with a lot of extra work, but they also come with a lot of extra fun too. Work hard, but have some fun too.