Thought of the moment....

No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER control anyone else's attitudes, actions, or outcomes. The only person that you have the ability to directly impact is you, and it is your responsibility to learn how to do just that...to utilize the knowledge, skills, and abilities you have been given to impact the world in the most positive way that you can EVERY chance you get!



Friday, September 17, 2010

Chapter breaks and new beginnings.

Today I am curious to know how many people know when to make the right break in a chapter and when their chapters seem to run on and on. Do you know when to transition to a new chapter?

I myself get lost in my story and continuously write without knowing when to break the chapter at the right time. It is not until either a brilliant beta or editing for the sixth time do I realize that I need to break a chapter up into several chapters. Sometimes my chapters can get lengthy and now that I am in the editing process for the millionth time, I am finding it easier to pace the chapters and break them into places where they transition better than they did before.

This is something that I did not even realize before being an amateur writer but am learning as I go. Without the assistance of beta readers and critique partners then I would be in a world of hurt trying to submit something that would surely be put into a slush pile and immediately be rejected.

How easy to chapter breaks come to you? Did it come naturally or was it something that you learned over time with the help of others? Lord knows I need all the help I can get and am greatly appreciative of those who help and support me in venture towards a writing career. Please share your secrets with us to help many of us struggling with this issue out! Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions.

11 comments:

coffeelvnmom said...

Geesh. I *think* I know where they go. I *think* I'm using the breaks correctly, ending chapters when I should. But I could be totally and completely wrong.

I use breaks for a new day, new scene, to force the reader to keep going. For some reason, on the one I'm doing right now, the chapters tend to be about eleven or twelve pages each. One I noticed that "trend", so to speak, it was easier to know when to break things up. I am the opposite though... getting to the end of a chapter is like finishing a tiny race for me... I'm constantly checking to see where I'm at;)

Kathryn said...

I feel like for my recently completed novel, I had it a bit easier, because I would decide ahead of time to do about three thousand words each week to email my beta, and so that was a chapter for me. That way, the scenes weren't going on for too long - they were all more or less in between 2,000 - 4,000 words, and for what I was writing, that worked for me.

Now I find myself in my new WIP a little more "irregular" with my chapter lengths, but I think a good way to do it is to look for a high note to end your chapter - then the tension builds!

Nathalie said...

Because I'm not a huge plotter, I tend to write with a chapter break in mind. I'm conscious of the pages in each chapter, always trying to maintain a similar amount in each. I wouldn't want 7 pages in one chapter and 34 in the next.

Also, I try to leave each chapter with a question, or something the reader would want to read the next chapter to find out. Leave em' hangin' so to speak. As long as the subject matter relevant to that particular scene has been handled for the most part, you can leave on a cliffhanger of sorts to draw the reader in to the next chap to find out what comes next.

Of course, chapter breaks are subjective and each writer will have their own personal way to handle them, but I think you need to feel them out and be comfortable with them. You're a great writer Regina, I look forward to your revised work!

PK Hrezo said...

I actually create a chapter outline before I even start writing. Of course, I often deviate from it, but it gives me a general idea of what I want to accomplish with each chapter.
If once I'm writing I end up with more than I expected, I simply break it into 2 chapters.

Thanks for following my new blog. :)

Katie S. Taylor said...

I end it when the chapter feels like it should end. Not really an answer, but that's how I do it. If it takes thirty pages to get there, that's fine. If it takes five, that's okay too. Once I get to the ending marker, though, I usually know. If there's several, individual scenes which make up a single chapter, that's okay too. If it feels right, then it's more or less how it's going to be. =).

Katie S. Taylor

Cheryl said...

I use a scene ending to finish a chapter, then look at how many pages total are in it. I've read books with 2-3 page chaps and books with 30-40 page chaps so I shoot for somewhere in there.

Harlequin used to say 13-20 pages to a chapter and 2-3 scenes to a chapter. Don't know if that still holds for category or not.

Elana Johnson said...

For me, it's a feel thing. I just know. And if I go too long, sometimes it's usually just a sentence or two and my crit partners tell me.

Regina said...

@coffeelvnmom: I think that the range of pages seems about right. I had some chapters that seemed to go 15 pages or I was capping them off at 5,000 words.

@Kathryn: I have since been in revision of my MS and have shortened some of my chapters.

@Nathalie: I love how you make your chapters suspenseful and making the reader beg for more. I appreciate your input.

@PK: I have done some chapter outlining myself and have found myself either lacking or going overboard for some chapter lengths. I have considered your input and now think I have mastered breaking them up. lol and I love the look of the new blog. It is great.

@Katie: I like your take on doing what it takes and when it feel right. Sometimes I feel like mine is too wordy and needs to be broken up.

@Cheryl: I think that I am finally getting the hang of it. I think that the range of pages sounds right...I am still working on it.

Thank you to everyone for all of your great advice. It is all very helpful. I love getting advice from all of my talented friends. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy. :)

Regina said...

@Elana: I have been blessed with some incredible betas who have helped me tremendously through this whole process. I thank them for everything they do because they go above and beyond to help out.

E.J. Wesley said...

Sometimes I like to end it when I'm feeling like it should go on. Let me explain ...

To keep tension high, it's sometimes helpful to think, "if I were the reader, at what moment would it make me craziest to be left hanging?" To do that you have to have more to say on the scene or action taking place.

Just don't pull a Dan Brown and get all cheap. "Bobby raised the knife above her head, anticipating the intruder!" The next chapter begins, "Bobby put the knife down. It was only her mother."

Christi Corbett said...

Regina,
When deciding my chapter breaks I always keep the reader in mind--and how to keep said reader turning the pages :)

I like to end a chapter during a moment of high tension or an exciting revelation that makes the reader say "Ok, just a few more pages". Plus, my chapters are very short (around six pages)so deciding to read on isn't a very big time commitement.

Christi Corbett

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