Something that I’m not so great at is where to end one chapter and start a new one. I like to cut them off at a point where there’s a little bit of suspense, to create a bit of incentive to turn the page – the best books for me are the ones that I can’t just stop reading and put down when I reach the end of the chapter, as I so often promise to do when it’s very late at night, because that chapter ending totally leaves me hanging and wondering what the hell is going to happen. So then I just read one more page… and the next thing I know it’s 4 a.m. and I’ve just read an entire book in a day.
But I’m off track now.
A lot of times I have a preconceived notion of where a chapter should end before I’ve actually written it. I don’t know if that’s a good idea when it comes to plotting or not, but that’s the direction my thoughts usually go when I’m thinking about structure (which is seldom). But then I’ll check my word count and realize my one chapter is actually about 12,000 words, which is just way too long any way you look at it. A 40 page chapter is just not reasonable in my mind. So then I have to split it into two smaller ones. My orginal ‘chapter 3’ was actually close to 24,000 words. True story. It ended up splitting into four. But then it’s kind of cool, because it’s way better to be able to say “I’ve finished six chapters so far” instead of a fairly measly three, and you feel like you’ve accomplished so much more. Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to getting to be able to write “Chapter 10” because, hey, double-digits, that’s kind of a neat milestone, right? And then when I checked my word count for chapter 9 I saw it was around 11,000 words, because once again I had this idea stuck in my head of where it had to end. Oops. I bisected it rather successfully, I think, and got to write both “Chapter 10” and “Chapter 11” tonight. See? I didn’t even know I was that far along.
I wonder if it would be better to just write the whole thing without worrying about where the chapters end, and add that all in afterwards, when it’s done?
And now for a musical interlude. The overly large section of the book formerly known as Chapter 9 was brought to you by the following songs, which have given me some inspiration and/or insight into a few of my characters’ motivations and emotions. One’s newer, and one’s an oldie but a goodie:
Thanks, iPod. Once again you have served me well.
Chapter 11 is going to be SO MUCH FUN to write.