Every writer has their own process. Some writer’s plot before they begin writing their story. They have their outline, complete with character development and plot twists. While others, like myself, fly by the seat of our pants. I start with my main characters, a conflict and resolution and then I jump on in. I have no clue where the story is going to take me and it isn’t until about half way through that I realize how my story might just end. The difficult part in jumping in is not to let the gaps, possible plot twists and random thoughts deter you from getting past the writing stage to the revision stage. How do I do that? I keep a wall of post-its.
Post-its are great little tools that you can stick anywhere and then remove when you are done with them. As I’m writing and an idea pops into my head, I write it down on a post-it and stick it to my wall. I then revisit the post-it during the revision process and once I’m done with it, I just remove it from my wall thereby leaving whatever post-its I have left to get to.
Let me take this one step further. Because I am anal retentive and a bit of a control freak (ok, maybe more than a bit), I use different color post-it to represent different things. Take a look at this image.
This was early on in my writing and my wall has gotten fuller since then. I’m currently using pink post-its for character (i.e. changing a main character’s eye color), blue post-its for specific chapters (i.e. add a particular scene to chapter 6) and yellow post-its for the overall plot items (i.e. remember to add specific idiosyncrasies throughout). Since this image was taken, I’ve added green for revision specific items such as mapping out my characters class schedules and white for random thoughts like maybe changing the point of view of my story.
This, of course, maybe a bit much for you and right now you’re probably thinking I’m a lunatic. I know other writers who keep a running issues list on a piece of paper and then cross them off as they fix the issue. This works as well and at the end of the day it’s all about what works best for you as a writer.
I have been writing a lot on my book lately. It seems like every few days I tweet that another chapter is done. Yesterday was one of those days and about 5 hours after tweeting someone asked me, "Do u have advice when it comes to chapter writing? How do u know how many u should write? Length for each chapter?" I realized it was another one of those questions I couldn't answer in 140 characters, so, today's blog topic. Alinanegrau, this one's for you.
Chapter writing is one of those topics that have no right answer. I've seen books that have 12 chapters, each with 10 pages or books that have 30 chapters with 3 pages each. I'm currently reading Dead to You by Lisa McMann whose first two chapter are single pages, front and back before she moves on to a longer chapter. At the end of the day, it's about what's best for your book and best to tell the story.
For me, I think of chapter writing like putting together a PowerPoint presentation for work. The first thing any presentation class will tell you is to break up your topics onto individual slides. For example, if you're presenting ideas for a party, you would break up food options and entertainment onto two separate slides. I think of my chapters in the same concept. If I want to show my main character being bullied in school on the same day she has a date, then I split them up into two chapters giving each plot point their due diligence.
The length of the chapters will vary depending on how much time I need to adequately show the two plot points. In that case, for me, it's a feeling. There are times when I get to the end and realize that this is the perfect place to stop as well as times when I get to the end and it doesn't feel like the end and I keep writing. The idea is not to force the chapter either way. Even with revision, sometimes a chapter can be told just as well when it's short as when it's long.
As this is my opinion, here are two links for articles from The Writer's Digest. And if you haven't subscribed to their email newsletter yet, I say do so. It's got some great tips.
Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining ‘Blog’ is a fool’s errand.