Here’s a short but possibly useful post on how to handle the lack of narrative flexibility you may encounter if you’re trying to write from a first-person point of view.
For example, this technique:
A detective on the trail of a killer corners him in a dark apartment. He takes several tentative steps. A shot rings out. The detective feels hot blood coming from his chest.
If you were writing in third-person POV, it would be easy to cut away from a scene of high tension for another scene with a different POV character (in this case, say, it’s the detective’s partner, lounging at a coffee shop). This is a great page-turning technique, leaving the reader to wonder what happened at the apartment.
A first-person novel, however, can’t cut away to a different POV scene. So instead of a physical cut, try time delay. First, end the chapter on a note of high tension. Then begin the subsequent chapter not with the next thing that happened, but with the narrator playing a little game of “You’ll have to wait.” In keeping with the same story line:
I hear a shot. And a jolt to my chest. And hot blood staining my shirt.
When I was six, my father taught me a valuable lesson. “Son,” he said …
After this digression, which can be a full-on flashback or a short remembrance, get back to what happened at the end of the last scene.
I bet we see this a lot in first-person narratives where the author likes to end chapters on cliffhangers.
I’ve started to play around more with first person in some of my Works in Progress, so I instantly thought: you know, it would be kind of fun to try to end ALL the chapters on a cliffhanger…
Which reminds me of Zelazny’s Doorways in the Sand, which has the most playful narrative structure I can think of, where every chapter starts in the middle.