Day 8: Breaking Chapters

Published Tuesday, June 18, 2013 8:15 AM
Just about finished chapter 3 and the only thing that's keeping me from moving on is seeing how long the next chapter potentially is. I wonder about chapter balance. Plenty of books I read have short chapters and long chapters. Only when they are in the extreme one way or the other do I really notice at all. I posed the question to facebook and this is the response I got:

Thanks for the responses, y'all! Ultimately, I think I need to focus on the function of the chapters, but out of courtesy to readers make sure that there are page breaks in longer ones (this tends to happen naturally, I've noticed). This is easy and relieving though to a degree ignores the idea of rhythm presented in the last response, although as far as novel-rhythm goes, I may be unready to tackle such an issue. What I can definitely do is make sure that chapters end for a reason and not simply exist as arbitrary sections. The first draft was very guilty of this. I would write about 5000 words, wrap things up nicely and close it out. When I reread the first draft I realized (and I can't remember if my wife helped me realize this or if I just had a conversation with her about it) how crappy that was. That chapters needed to end on notes that kept people wanting to read. This isn't a new idea, having a cliffhanger. I like the way Calvin put it: "punctuate a book." That punctuation doesn't have to be an ellipsis, a question mark, or a exclamation point (though I think those would be the most common). 

The only reason I don't feel I can tackle rhythm is that I'm still parsing out so many other issues, but this is always the writers problem. Even in a novel, everything serves multiple functions. You don't take one sentence to establish mood, another character, another setting then you go into plot. Everything is dynamic and intertwined. I guess I just don't feel like I have a feel for the rhythm yet, especially when I'm consciously working to maintain the same narrative voice (important even for an unseen, omniscient narrator), style and mood. Will have to ponder rhythm more in the future. Just one more thing... THANKS DIS-ROBE-A-TELL-HE!

Working on: Finishing Chapter 3, Starting Chapter 4
Time Spent Writing: about 3 hours
Writing Music: Favorite Piano Music Playlist, Firefly, OCRemix
by DMI
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