Monday, May 16, 2011

When to Break It

Well, the exciting thing in my neck of the woods this morning? I FINISHED MY BOOK!!!

Holy moly, I'm so beyond ecstatic I can't even tell ya :D Although by "done" I mean I need to read through it once more, send it out to a few people, and then incorporate whatever last minute edits they give me, but still....DONE :D

Now, when I write and edit, I do it by scene, not chapter. I find it easier to rewrite and rearrange that way. So when I finished last night, I went back through and pieced everything together into one file and assigned chapter numbers. Most of the scenes end up being their own chapters, but there were several I combined.

I ran into a few that I just didn't know what to do with. I had broken them where I did because I liked the cliffhanger that was created. But leaving them left me with several very short chapters. For the most part, I don't worry about chapter length...I try to keep them around 10 pages a piece but if they go longer or shorter (even very much shorter) I don't sweat it too much.

However, there were a couple where the only reason I had cut them was for the cliffhanger...and having a two page chapter just so I could have a specific cliffhanger didn't seem like a good enough reason to have that short of a chapter in a couple instances.

So it got me curious. How do you decided when to add a chapter break? There are the obvious reasons, of course - POV change, different scene/setting/situation, etc. But aside from that, if you are in the same scene, the same setting, the same POV, how do you decided when it would be good to stick a chapter break in?

14 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I guess I insert chapter breaks as I write, whatever feels like the best break. Congrats on finishing!!

Christine Fonseca said...

All my chapters (well MOST of them) end at the pinnacle of the climax, with the resolution coming at the start of the next chapter. That, or when there is a natural pause in the storyline. I find the pacing is better that way.

Congrats on finishing! WOOT

Mark Noce said...

Alright, big congrats!!! It's a heck-of-a-bigger accomplishment than most people realize, so power to ya!

Talli Roland said...

Congrats, congrats!

I hate breaking up chapters, especially if scenes are too long and I know they need a break... but I have no idea where to put it! I'm not help at all, I realise...

Faith E. Hough said...

Congratulations!!
I'm afraid I think of chapter breaks as something intuitive at this point. Although now I think I'm going to have to analyze a lot more.

Donna Hosie said...

Congratulations!

I aim for ten pages per chapter. So by the time I hit eight pages, I know I should have created tension and moved the story along.

It's a number thing!

Shari said...

Congrats. I like Christine's reasoning. It has depended on the book for me, but I think ten pages is a good goal.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I do the same thing with the cliff hangers that leaves me with a lot of four-page scenes. I think I settled on just putting two such scenes together to make one eight or nine page chapter from two scenes. It's one of those tricky writer questions, but for me my scenes always get to about four pages before my inner cliffhanger dispenser activates.

I'm also with Donna on using the page count to measure my pacing.

Stephanie McGee said...

I may have to analyze this more in the future. I've never really thought much about how I decide that portion of it. Although with the book I'm currently just about to finish is broken basically by time frame. Chapter 1 is night one, chapter 2 is the next day. I skip to August and that's a chapter, etc.

Stephanie McGee said...

Oh, and congratulations on finishing!!!

Hanny said...

Congratulations! What an accomplishment. That has to feel sooo good to have done!

Laura Pauling said...

What a great question. I'd have to say that kind of like ending the story - when the scene twist/turning point has been revealed I get out as fast as I can. And sometimes it's not always a cliff hanger but an introduction to the next scene. And congrats on finishing a wip!

Matthew MacNish said...

I never use as many chapter breaks as I should. I'm trying to add more as I revise, because I have only like 20 chapters in 120,000 words.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Hmm, good question. For me it depends on the book and the feel I want. For Monarch, for instance, I wanted relatively short chapters to intensify the quick pace. In my novellas, I don't even do chapters, but large sections. In general, I usually only do 1 or 2 scenes for a chapter.