Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chapters - writing tip

Some people plan every scene before they begin to writer a book. Some people just sit down and write the story. I am one of the later.

I never divide my book into chapters until it is finished. I just write the story all in one big file. I also never pad the story to make it a certain length and I don’t advise you to do that either. Write the story one scene at a time. Then go on to the next and the next and so on, always following the action.

Some scenes will be only a few paragraphs. Some will be several pages long. Mine average about five pages. Though they can be less than one and up to nine. If a scene runs more than nine pages, I know I’ve lost track of something.

Once the story is finished, I go back and put chapter headings in at scene breaks, between 15 and 20 pages at a time. If I want a three chapter sample, I can go and do that at the beginning of the book and copy those pages into a separate file called sample, and so on. But I don’t like to break the story up until it is pretty well finished.

The reason is that quite often I find I need to insert scenes in places I had not anticipated. For instance: in GHOST DANCER, I had no plans for Elaine to come west. She was only to be mentioned as a reason for Christy’s leaving home. Then I wrote a scene and Elaine walked in, saying, “I’ve had a perfectly miserable trip!” I wrote her out, but she kept coming back. So then I had to go back and write in a scene where she found out a secret and left home, and another scene to show the perfectly horrible trip, and so when she showed up on the train, the reader was ready for her – and not as shocked as I was to see her there.

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