Write like a professional, get the chapters right

By getting the word count right. How?

Scene by scene.

I’ve written in the past about the word count for books but a book is made up of chapters. And chapters are made up of scenes. 

A mixture of really short and really long chapters may give your reader a case of whiplash. Make sure that doesn’t happen. 

There is nothing wrong with varying chapter length or writing a book with all short chapters, but I’d avoid the extreme. Scenes set the pace and like stepping stones lead your reader through the book. 

Randy Ingermanson on Advanced Fiction Writing, reminds us to think SCENES not CHAPTERS.

Controlling Chapter Lengths in Your Novel

Things from his post I want to remember:

  • Chapters are stepping stones to take the reader through your book.
  • Chapters consist and are controlled by SCENES.
  • Varying scene length is okay. But be consistent.
  • A good average word count for a scene is 1000-1500.
    • A little more or a little less the Keyword is average.
  • A good scene count for a chapter is driven by the scenes.
  • My writing style dictates the word count for scenes.
  • Chapter word count is determined by the number of chapters in the book.
    • 70,000 ÷ 3,000 = 23 chapters
    • 70,000 ÷ 2,000 = 28 chapters
    • ? ÷? =? chapters (you do the math.)
  • Don’t pad a scene with words just for the sake of the count.
  • Only add words to a scene that move the story forward.

Be sure and click on Randy’s link above and read his article. He has lots more to say about writing scenes that add up to a book.

Do you think in scenes when writing a chapter?

What do you think is a good length for a chapter?

Do you write the scenes first and then divide up into chapters?

Have a tip about finding that chapter/scene balance? Do share.

 

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Do you really know what makes up a story?

Beginning, Middle, and End.

Okay, but what makes up those three pieces?

We can’t simply write:

  1. Beginning: She opened up the store each morning.
  2. Middle: She sold groceries all day.
  3. End: She closed the store at night.

No one would buy that story because it’s not a story.

What is the truth about the 3 story parts?

How do we cut it into bite-size, swallowable pieces? After all, none of us wants to choke on our own words.  

Once again, better writers than I prevail. Thanks to  over at The Creative Penn for sharing the solution by author Michaelbrent Collings

In his post, Mr. Collings breaks down the three parts of a story and how to apply them in very simple terms. So simple even I got it. LOL

Beginning: Starts with a wish/dream for something or someone.

  • Excuses Protagonist gives for not reaching for the dream.
  • Until something happens to turn the wish into a desire.

Middle: The Desire

  • Make a TO-DO list to help achieve the desire.
  • What tools, help, actions will Protagonist need to get said desire.

End: The Achievement

  • Protagonist either gets or doesn’t get heart’s desire.

Be sure and click on this link and read the entire article…

Writing Fiction: This Is How You Write A Story By Michaelbrent Collings 

Talk to me…

Did you learn anything new about story structure?

Did you find he simplified the writing process a bit?

Got any tips to share with me about keeping writing simple?

 

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Have you lost that new writer feeling?

That love at first written word?

You know what I’m talking about. Don’t act like you don’t. That first blush of prose,  your heart racing with each word you write. Oh, and remember when your first short story or flash fiction story was published? Ah, love sweet love.

Short story, flash fiction, and Drabble – writing the great American novel couldn’t be much harder. Wrong. I have so much to learn.

Thank you, Sacha Black, for your recent post.

7 LESSONS I WISH SOMEONE HAD TAUGHT ME BEFORE I STARTED WRITING

It feels good to realize I’m not the only writer on the planet to stumble through the writing process.

I too had to face the fact, learning takes time. Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks but it may take a little longer and a lot more patience.

What I gleaned from Sacha’s lessons:

  • I’m not alone. We can all learn to write better.
  • Writing a short story is not the same as writing a novel.
  • Research is a black hole.
  • Studying is a black hole.
  • Reading can suck you into a black hole.
  • BLACK HOLES will distract me from writing.
  • Focus on learning one writing technique at a time.
  • Feedback should come from objective writers.
  • Benchmark what other authors write. Deconstruct specific sections, dialog and figure out the why and how.
  • Break down competition. Covers, chapters, length, etc. How will mine stack up?
  • Make friends. Writer friends who tell me the truth. Sometimes the truth is overrated.
  • Write-I should make more time to write. Shouldn’t we all?

Sacha goes into more detail on her blog, and you’ll probably get something totally different than I did so click and read the whole thing. You’ll be glad you did.

Were you naive when you first began writing?

What have you learned since you wrote your first story/book?

If you could share one lesson with the beginning writer (you), what would it be?

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