How to Decide the Chapter Length in Fiction

Hi folks!

We authors often face doubts in our ability. The best writers would rather hide their manuscript in the drawer than bear the criticism. So it takes guts to share our creation with the world. We doubt everything. Even things we know. So it always helps to go over writing craft tips again and again.

One question that every one of us wonders one time or another is how long should we keep the chapters. We don’t want to break off in the middle of the scene and neither do we want an unending chapter which leaves the reader word-breathless. Let’s go over which factors are important in deciding the chapter length in fiction.

Genre: This is the most important factor which counts in my opinion. If you’re writing a thriller, you want pace and action. Short chapters, especially with terse headings indicating time and/or place lend speed to the story and make the reader turn the pages faster. This adds buzz to the reading. So limit your chapters to 1000 to 1500 words if you write a mystery.

On the other hand, if you’re writing literary fiction, you want to hold the reader’s hand and guide them through life’s unraveling truths. In this case, long chapters, possibly even without section breaks are better. The flow of the writing keeps going inexorably and the reader wants to absorb the words rather than skip through the pages. Here chapters can be 5000 words and your reader won’t mind.

Change of setting/Time elapse: If you change the setting or your character moves to a different place or if you jump to another time, then it’s better to start a new chapter. This will tell your reader that a change in place or time is indicated.

POV: This is important but at the same time also a matter of choice. You should ideally have one POV per chapter. In romance genre, if you write for both protagonists, then you can alternate between each. But you shouldn’t make it a hard and fast rule. Sometimes it wouldn’t suit your story to have a particular scene in that character’s POV, whose turn has come up. Then feel free to break the rule. Even so, try to have a section break to show that the point of view has changed or you can be accused of head hopping.

These are the most important things to consider in my view. What do you consider the most important factor while deciding chaper length? Do share in the comments.

For most writing tips, check out my Helpful Tips for Writers publication, Conflict in Fiction available as Amazon kindle edition at only 99 cents. In this booklet, you will find how to build conflict and how to categorize conflict in your fiction work. A special section for conflict in romance fiction is included.

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Plan Your Writing #writetips

Hi everyone!

Here in north India the winters are in full swing. Of course, they are not to be compared with the snow and sub zero temperature zones, but still enough to slow down the pace. I think winters are ideal to get some more of writing time put in. The long evenings when you don’t feel like going out can be adjusted for lots of reading and writing. Do you agree?

So let me ask you. Do you plan your writing? I think planning is a big and important part of adding pace to your work in progress. We can sit down and randomly get down words – and they may be brilliant. But it is comforting and definitely good for your blood pressure if you know you have everything under control including the required writing time for your novel.

How can you plan to write?

First, a good prepping is conducive to writing. Charge your laptop or sharpen your pencils, whatever you like to do. Clean up your desk top and organise your work space. Just the act of making sure you’re ready is enough to put you in the mood to write.

Prepping can include having your favourite beverage at your side. How inviting the atmosphere will be then! The wordsmith in you will not be able to resist it.

Second, know your limit. You should know some goal or scene towards which you’ll be writing. If you’re beginning, you should know your inciting incident. If you’re in the middle, you should know which important point comes next. You can overshoot the mark and write on, but you should know in which direction you’re aiming.

Third, leave research for another time. If you want to get the most out of your writing, don’t stall the flow by pausing to dive into the minutiae. You want to build the current and keep the word count ticking. Either do your research before hand and have your notes handy. Or put a mark where in-depth details are needed and get back to it later.

So, these are the key points in planning your writing time. Do you want to add any more? I would love to hear in the comments.

Happy writing!

How to Boost Your Word Count #Nanowrimo #Nanowrimo2017

Nanowrimo or the National Novel Writing Month is in full swing. Everywhere online, you hear word counts approaching ten, twenty, thirty, thousand words or even above that till your head spins how to churn out words fast enough to meet the high standard. But staring at your screen or binging on coffee isn’t going to achieve that (second thoughts, binging on coffee might!)

Anyway, here are a few ways to improve your output.

Focus on interaction:

Don’t delay, wasting time setting up your story or obsessing about research. Get your characters interacting. Which is the scene when two opposing forces come face to face? Three chapters down? Don’t wait for it, bring it out right now. The more interested you are in your book, the faster the words will flow.

Don’t plan:

Not the story. You should plan the story, because you want to see where you’re going (unless you’re a pantser) What I mean is, don’t plan how many words you will write today. Better think, I will write three scenes or still better, today Christine will go about her day and experience three things that will make her change her mind about changing her career. And so on and so forth. When you aim to get to a story point, you feel energized and motivated.

Writing sprints:

This is the best part about Nanowrimo. You can join in writing sprint – set a time period and find friends to write for that time. Then compare. Healthy competition is good for words.

So, to sum up, write about conflicts and showdowns, don’t obsess about the word count and join in writing sprints. Here’s to a successful Nanowrimo for us all.

If you feel like a break in this stressful time, (this is me, indulging in a bit of shameless promo) feel free to check out my latest romance novel, Last Man She’d Love.

Blurb:

He’s flirty…she’s cool…both are fighting an irresistible attraction

Lyna finds herself caught in a situation where she has to break her engagement. Next thing, she’s asking her oh-so-attractive boss Guy for help. With his breezy charm, he succeeds in turning every woman in his radius to putty- except her. Why did she get involvedwith him? 

Last Man She’d Love is a kindle bestseller. Right now it’s a bargain at 25% off.

Check it out at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07475QM2N 

Getting back to writing 

All writers feel a passion to write. But sometimes, a writer may get distanced from writing. It may be due to life getting busy, or that certain spark going missing in writing. Writer’s block can grow into a boulder sized obstacle that supresses creativity and makes the writer cringe from penning words. It may be due to a novel that putsthe author into conflict. One doesn’t know how to proceed further and yet cannot take up anything new.

Here are a few ways to get back into the stream when you have left the tide. When you finally have time and leisure, or are mentally ready to write again, what can you do to help you along? Especially when your novel has became that elephant in the room, forcing you to pay attention.

1. Set up a routine.

This is difficult because your routine so far has been writing free. You may rather wander around virtually in the social media. Your friends may miss your presence. Your family may have got used to have you wait on them (all too easy to let them, especially if you are a woman). What you need to do is take a hard look at your schedule and make a time slot and whether you are productive or not, let that time stand.

2. Make a writing corner.

A place for writing is not absolutely necessary if you are into the flow. When the characters start talking, you can write even in the dentist’s waiting room. But during initial return phase, you may need seclusion and focus, both of which can be found in your special writing place. It can be just a small desk in the corner or it can be a proper office, but do create that zone which will tell your subconscious loud and clear that you mean business.


3. Reread your last wip without bias.

From startbto the point you’re done, reread your work in progress. Make notes but don’t change anything. Make a list of the characters in your story. Give some time and thought to each of these and see if they are well etched or need to be more three dimentional. Write a random piece of dialogue between them and see if your creativity wakes up. Maybe soon you’ll be involved in them and getting back to writing. 

So, find the time and the zone and take a deep breath and open the dreaded file. I think opening the file, whether hard or soft copy, is half the battle. Once you start, maybe you’ll recapture that moment which made you start this particular piece and find the core of the story that can provide the drive to your writing. Here’s to finding that lost touch and getting back to writing! *raises tea cup* Who knows your finished bestseller is just waiting to unfold.

How to begin your book? Three ways to get started on your novel

How to begin your book?

It’s a question to which every author seeks an answer every time he or she begins a new work. I believe very firmly that every book needs a different approach. But how to approach the beginning so that your novel can get going with ease and it’s not just that you write better but your readers also enjoy reading it.


There is no foolproof way, but the following tips will help you get your story into gear. Basically you can start your story in three different ways. It depends on you and your style of writing which way you pick to write the beginning of your novel. So do you,

Plan beforehand:

In your mind, you have already charted the beginning, middle and the end of the book. You have a clear idea what you want to convey to the readers and hence you start with where you want the story to take off. This usually involves a peek into the character and a look at the character’s life or what is called as story world. Then you work up to the inciting incident.

You can begin straightaway with action but that’s more difficult to carry off because the reader needs to have a clear idea where or how the action started.

If you are a plotter this would be your favored method to write. Or you could,

Write as you go:

You have no idea what your story consists of. You don’t know the end. You have a brilliant story idea and you can’t wait to put down the words.

In this case, you had better put down everything that comes to your mind. This type of free flow writing or pantsing will require rewrites and probably re-rewrites before you get your story done. So, in any case you will be rewriting your beginning. Yes, you can absolutely do that after you finish the book. In fact, many authors prefer to write the beginning afterwards. It can be crystal clear where it is just a muddy pool of ideas when you began the story.

If you want to write free flow, to avoid wasting time, it’s better to know three things:

The heart of your story – what is your story about. Why should anyone give a damn about what you are writing.

Your character’s journey – What is the endpoint your character is striving for? It can be a physical, emotional or spiritual goal, but it is sensible to at least have some idea of it.

Your story genre – How you are going to tie up the ends may depend on what genre you are writing. In romance, for example, it’s customary to have a happy-ever-after. In horror, things almost always end up worse. In inspirational stories, the protagonist learns a lesson, though he or she may not get what they wanted at the beginning of the story.

Or you can be the one who follows,

Middle path:

If you have a rough idea of how story is going to progress, you can probably choose right away how to begin the story with maximum impact. I prefer to strongly visualize the beginning – often the beginning is so strong for me that the rest of the story has to be stirred to gel with it. I might even change the character’s profession or the location of the story to fit in with the beginning. It might be different or the same for you. But if you fix the beginning right away, you won’t have to come back and face the change again.

Be careful that your beginning straightaway fixes the reader in the location and time of your story e.g. is it medieval India or Planet X-8i4 in 2095 or present day NYC? The reader should be grounded in the setting. At the same time, exposition about what your character has been through in their life or what they did all afternoon is to be avoided. As soon as you can, bring the focus on the moment of action i.e. what is happening that is of importance? What is propelling your story to take off in the direction you have envisioned?

It’s hard to list all the finer points needed to make the beginning shine, but hope this gives you a better idea of how you want to go about writing down the first few hundred words of your novel. Do leave a comment how you liked this post and anything else you want to share or ask about book beginnings.

 

#writerstipwednesday #Writingtips

Writing is an art which requires extensive knowledge of the craft and even more amount of hard work. With pressures of day job – if you have one – and daily routine, it’s easy to get immersed in ‘life’ and feel disenchanted with writing. To keep you penning those words, whether you are a beginner or an already published author, here are some gems of advice from those who have been through it.

“Use a timer to write everyday and exercise your writing muscles.” This rejuvenating tip is from Nanowrimo winner Morton Gray.

Maya Tyler whose has debuted in the paranormal genre with Dream Hunter has an alert for you. “First you write, then you sell? No, you need to establish an author platform and learn how to manage social media long before you publish your first book.”

Here are my own two cents. “While researching keep your focus on the key words and the vision you have for your story. It’s all too easy to get drawn to interesting facts and try to weave them into your book. But that’s a pothole to avoid. Let research serve your book, not the other way around.”
This was an important lesson learned after wasting two hours to establish one single fact in the historical romance I’m currently editing. *sigh* I should write fantasy.

So have you found these useful? Do you agree or disagree? Share what works or doesn’t work for you in writing in the comments below.

#WriterstipWednesday : Authors share their #writingtips

Hi folks! Today is the first instalment of the writing advice jewels that authors are going to pour out of their experience bags onto this blog.

Devika Fernando, author of contemporary and paranormal romance novels gives this valuable tip:
“Make the 1st sentence of each chapter special. it has to make the reader want to rush ahead to know what will happen in the chapter, just like a book’s very first sentences should always be attention-grabbers.”

A voracious reader and a passionate writer, Ruchi Singh aims to create an entertaining, interesting experience for the reader through her stories. She says, “Master the grammer/ punctuation rules and use them right from the first draft, it will save time in the end, with less errors while proof-reading.”

Writing tip #3 is from Maya Tyler who has recently published her debut paranormal romance novella Dream Hunter. “Just like in singing, make a joyful noise! Drafts don’t have to be perfect – just written!”

Sheritha Singh, South African writer who lives on the Kwa-Zulu Natal North Coast, shares, “Write in a voice you’re comfortable with. If you’re having trouble writing a scene then write that particular scene in first POV. It helps layer the scene with emotion and see it through the character’s eyes. I’ve done that many times. Although most of my published work is written in first POV, I’ve had work published in third POV as well. Writing in first POV helps get inside the character’s head as well.”

Last but not least, here’s my writing tip:
“Don’t hold back on dialogue. Conversations are the best way to get into your character’s head. What they say, whether it is in concordance with what they think or how they act, will lead us directly into their conflict and thus make us turn the page.”

Did you find these suggestions useful? Do you have something to contribute? Looking forward to hearing from you.

Want to feature your writing tip on #writerstipwednesday? Send me your one line bio, link and your suggestion through the Contact me page of this site.