My guest on Patricia’s Pen today is a lovely author all the way from Itlay, Nina Romano, who has recently released The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley. Wow. What a fabulous cover. Nina has come along to chat about What’s in a Chapter. Without further ado, let’s go over to Nina.
What’s in a Chapter?
I want to seduce you with my words! Here’s what I try to do with every chapter I write. The first line and the last line of each chapter that graces one of my novels, I try to make a zinger. By that I mean I want those lines to entice the reader to continue reading the next sentence, the next chapter. The first sentence is a coax, an invitation, a temptation, a challenge, a lure to beguile and charm the reader to read on.
It is the first sentence that either speeds up the action or slows it down, but even slowing down the pace, doesn’t mean: ho-hum, boring, and putting the reader to sleep. First of all, it’s a continuation of where I left off on the preceding chapter before it, but it’s also the broadening of the story canvas presenting scenes with colorful and imaginative writing. Diverse combinations from my palette add bold strokes to the narrative. I change up the sentence structure. Invert grammar to suit my needs. I write one word sentences. I avoid adverbs and adjectives like the proverbial Corona virus and use strong nouns and verbs.
The first line can be a declarative sentence, seemingly a calm indication of time and space, but it can also be a question, dialogue, or an inflammatory revelation. The first line should always indicate if there is a shift in setting and especially POV. I’ve written several books in 1st person and 3rd person POV attached. In all of my novels, I make sure that these switches are clear.
Ask any poet, like Patricia M Osborne or myself, about line breaks and we’ll tell you that in a poem it’s important to leave off on a strong word. Never end a poetic line with an article of speech, or a weak word, or a conjunction. Why? To lead the reader to continue to the next line. It is the same in fiction: the author must escort and beckon the reader to read on with suggestive prose. At least, this author surely tries to enchant and enthrall.
Between the first and the last lines, I include compelling material—a risk, a quandary, a problem that creates tension for the main character to solve. Each chapter must contain the character’s motivations. The scenes are painted with dialogue and action, but also the six senses—that’s right—not just the five we’re born with, but also a sixth sense. This can be many things, including the character’s intuition. The sixth sense enriches each chapter. It needn’t be in every chapter, but it’s a neat little thing to store in your bag of writerly tricks. It can be: a hunch, feeling, inkling, suspicion, perception. The intuitive character might use a technique of internal dialogue to determine the outcome of a struggle. He/she might write a note, a poem, a letter, or a message which becomes a quick flash fiction within the fictive tale. There’s nothing like a story within a story!
There are so many things I explore in a chapter—a character’s actions—what are the causes and effects of these? Cause and effect are both issues I like to include here and there. Almost like Hansel and Gretel dropping bread along the paths in the forest to enable them to find the way back. I also alternate between long and short chapters, which are comprised of exciting, heart-wrenching, or calming prose rendered poetically and lyrically, or brutally frank and even shocking.
One thing this writer aims for is the “cliffhanger” at the end of the chapter, or perhaps an unresolved question, or a new problem. The purpose of this is to make the reader want to turn the page.
About Nina Romano
Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. A world traveler and lover of history, she lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has taught English and Literature as an Adjunct Professor at St. Thomas University, Miami, and has facilitated numerous Creative Writing and Poetry Workshops at Writing Conferences throughout the States.
Romano has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has had five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks published traditionally with independent publishers. She co-authored a nonfiction book: Writing in a Changing World, and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.
Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.
Her Western Historical Romance, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is a semifinalist for the Laramie Book Awards.
Her novel, Dark Eyes, an historical thriller set in Soviet Russia, is forthcoming in 2022 from Speaking Volumes, LLC.
To find out more about Nina Romano and purchase her books – pop over to her Amazon Author Page.
Tell your author pal I would buy the book for the cover alone🤣🤣🤣🤣! X
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I agree, Brian, it really is a lovely cover.
Really, really good piece that one Tricia, and full of practical advice the reader can use👍
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Thank you, Brian, I am pleased you enjoyed Nina’s blog.