Note taking for authors #chaptersummaries #amwriting

Okay, so I’m going to talk to you about something important today – note taking for an author. When one researches how to write books, one stumbles on so much advice that it feels like the universe is about to gang on that writer.

Please, don’t feel like that. I’m going to try to make things clearer and why a writer should do certain things. Have a cup of coffee, tea, soda, or water and remember to participate in the comment section. When I started blogging, there was participation and after a while most of us started to just like things. If you participate in this post, I’ll return the favor!

Let’s begin.

One advice that we hear again and again is to write chapter summaries. I have to say – I didn’t take it in the beginning. Yes, it’s a lot of work but if you’re writing a series, it’s a lifesaver. I mean come on, you just turned your characters inside your head into BEINGS that readers would want to root for! Your characters have birthdays. Birthdays mean zodiac signs and those mean that your character has special characteristics. If you have for example five characters, can you tell me you would remember each one’s birthday and characteristics? Probably not. So, why do you think you would remember what happens in a chapter? Write things down. Here’s what I do for my chapter summary:

  1. Character appearances: all characters that appear in the chapter and those that are mentioned.
  2. Locations: It could be office or Country, State, County, City, District, street address, park… anything. This is a great thing to track because in one chapter your character is in the park and in the next in an office. Did you have a transition? Does it make sense?  
  3. Time mentioned: It may not be important to some stories but to others, it’s a key to flow. I’m going to bring up my novella – Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted. Recently, I had an editor re edit it and resubmitted it to KDP Select. The novella needed a lot of work. Not only was it edited but I added about 5k words! I’m super happy I looked back. Back to the time thing. The key to that novella is time. Chanel has to take a pill every seven hours. So, I can’t skip a pill and if I do, it has to make sense. At one point it didn’t make sense!!! If I had chapter summaries when I wrote the novella, there wouldn’t have been a big gap. In conclusion for this point, even if you’re not writing a series, you still need chapter summaries.
  4. Main events: What happened in the chapter? What may you need in the future?
  5. Quotes for advertising: Memes and posters are like key to indie authors success… well part of it. This part saves time for the future when you’ll start thinking about advertising.
  6. What’s missing?: What can you add to make the chapter shine? A character? A description? Flow into the next?

As you can see, you don’t need have a chapter summary in paragraph form, although it’s a plus if you add one. Some publishing houses look for paragraph format summaries. And all those notes can help you write one.

What do you guys add to your chapter summaries? Are you going to start writing them? How useful are they to you?

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