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 

Is your productivity dependent on someone else being busy?

I, like most of us, like to maintain good relations with my work mates. We often take breaks together, have tea and catch up of each other’s news. But every so often, we spend time talking and one thing leads to another subject. That piece of news that you have to give an opinion on. That rule of the management that you have to rant on, and so on. I didn’t realize I was taking so much time off until one day, I found myself thinking, today so and so will be busy, so I will save time from chatting and get xyz done.

We often find it hard to tear ourselves away from that cosy chitchat, but if you find you are losing time in which you could have got things done, accomplished your goals, then do something about it.

What can you do:

1) Set up an alarm:

This is the most effective way that I have known to work. You want to take a doughnut break, fine. Give yourself a reasonable time interval and set an alarm. Easy to do with the phone these days. Discipline yourself to heed it and get back to work after it rings. If you planned to write or do some task, schedule a time for it and at least get started on it when your phone beeps.

2) Tell each other to keep it short:

You can ask your workmate to nudge you a reminder that so and so tasks are pending. You can return the favour.

3) Make lists

List making is always useful. At the start of your day, make a list of five tasks you must get done. When you have work looming over you in the form of an item waiting to be ticked off, you will find yourself hurrying to get it done.

Find what works for you and most of all, keep track of your time.

You don’t have to isolate yourself to be efficient, but every now and then, do try to distance yourself from indulging in gossip and keep things from joining the procrastination list.

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.

Happy #WorldPoetryDay, Happy #Nowruz, folks! Happy #blogiversary and happy #bookpublishingday to me

What an exciting day today is! Many occasions falling together. Let me wish you all Happy World Poetry Day! Also a very Happy Nowruz, Persian New Year to those who celebrate it.

Today is my third blogiversary so Happy blogiversary and happy book publishing day to me as I hit publish today after an amount of feeling jittery and jumpy. His Christmas Surprise, Book 2 of Christmas Romance series, will be out soon!

On World Poetry Day, I put together something for my writers’ group FWBA, that I would like to share here.  I don’t usually write poetry so do excuse the floundering 🙂

Write something that shakes the false beliefs
and challenges the dusty claims
Write something that renews the inheritance
of the Earth we have got
Write with courage, hope and originality
which unfailingly aims
To banish darkness of ancient, moldy wisdom
and celebrates new thought

FotorCreated

Write more and create to inspire. Happy writing!

Update: The book link is now live! https://www.amazon.com/His-Christmas-Surprise-romance-Book-ebook/dp/B06XS6XZ7J 

#Interview: Sujit Banerjee, author of Rukhsat The Departure #authorinterview #TheBookClub

Hello! Let us get to know author Sujit Banerjee by this question and answer session. Sujit Banerjee is the author of Rukhsat The Departure. Find his guest post and more about his book here.

How did you become a writer, by chance or by choice?

Absolutely by chance. My scribbled notes on people became a full blown body and I felt they HAD to be told.

Are you a genre writer? Why (or why not)? Which genre appeals to you the most?

I am not and this one was by chance. I love all kind of genre and maybe my next one will be a novel based on the 1857 revolt of Bareily!!!

What makes this book special to you?

Holding the stories inside me was getting painful and this was a big relief – pouring it out on pages and in print.

A brief description of the book and its main characters.

You will find that in the blurp on back page of the book.

What are your writing fads or quirks?

Writing them on cell phone in the middle of the night, drunk!

What’s your take on these writing dilemmas? (Please specify the reason for your choice)

1) plotter or pantser

Pantser any day. I am too impatient and impulsive to plan and plot though I would like to change that.

2) self publish or traditional

A bit of both; traditional publishing takes way too much time and with chances it will never see the day.

3) Polished first draft or sloppy one?

I thought my first draft was polished till my Editor tore it apart and sent me back to the drawing board four times. Even now there are few errors!

4) Deadline or family/friends time

My own time. Like I said I am too lazy to adhere to deadlines.

5) Writing a certain target everyday or in floods and droughts

Impulsive. I went a year nearly without being able to write a para.

Thank you for sharing about yourself.

Read about Sujit’s book here.

This post is a part of blog tour hosted by The Book Club.

 

Guest post by author Neelam Saxena Chandra #TheBookClub

Hi everyone, please welcome author Neelam Saxena Chandra at my blog today. She is here to share her thoughts about a question I put to her about reading and her writing. here’s my question and the following is her reply.

What is your favorite genre to read and how it reflects in your writing.

I suppose I don’t really have one particular choice of genre in reading. At different times, I am seen reading different things. When I am travelling I prefer lighter reading such as romance or mysteries (I have finished reading almost all of Agatha Christie in trains. I still remember the moment when I got so engrossed in reading one of the mysteries, that I was about to miss a flight – I was the last one to board despite checking in almost two hours before departure). However, when I am reading leisurely, I love to read something more intelligent – it could be anything ranging from spiritual to a crime thriller or even a story based on social conditions in a particular state of time and region or even a science fiction. I don’t even mind reading Amar Chitra Katha or Chacha Chowdhary. A good set of poems fascinates me. I still love reading the classics. The book I am reading when I have ample time for myself should basically be a book which enriches me after I finish it. (My favorite author is Erich Segal).

To think of it, my reading habits get reflected in my writing too. I haven’t yet stuck to one genre. I write different things at different times depending upon my state of mind – poetry, children’s stories, short stories and novels. In stories and novels, I have tried various genres such as romance, horror, supernatural, etc. If there is something common in my stories, it is love and affection.

…..

Thanks, Neelam.

This post is part of the blog tour for her book Sands of Time. Let’s know something about the book.

Sands Of Time 
by 
Neelam Saxena Chandra
Blurb 
‘SANDS OF TIME’ is a collection of twelve interesting stories which bring out the different moods and moments in the lives of women.
Watch it 

 

Some Facts About the Author 
 
NeelamSaxena Chandra, an author of thirty-two books,is a record holder with the Limca Book of Records for being the author with highest number of publications in a year in English and Hindi (2015). She works as Joint Secretary (U.P.S.C.).  She has won award in a poetry contest by American Embassy, Premchand award by Ministry of Railways, Rabindranath Tagore international poetry award, Freedom award by Radio city for her lyrics. She was listed in the Forbes list as one of the most popular seventy eight authors in the country in 2014.

Awarded by eminent poet/lyricist Gulzarji in a Poetry Contest organized by American Society on the topic ‘Poetry for Social Change’.

Received the Rabindranath Tagore International poetry award -2014

Awarded PremchandPuraskar by Ministry of Railways (II prize)

Awarded by Children Book Trust, India in 2009.

Neelam also debuted as a lyricist in Shankar Tucker’s composition ‘Mere Sajan sun sun’ and the song has won the ‘Popular Choice’ award  in Folk Fusion category in Radio City Freedom Awards.

Neelam is a record holder with Limca Book of records for highest publications in a year in English and Hindi.

Neelam and her daughter hold record for being the first mother-daughter duo to write a poetry book for the book ‘Winter Shall Fade’ in Limca Book of Records, Miracle World Records and India Book of records.

           

 

This Tour is Hosted by 

We Promote So That You Can Write 

We leave you with a wonderful song penned by Neelam Saxena Chandra
 
 
 This guest post is hosted by Summerita Rhayne, author of Amazon bestseller ebook Against All Rules

#Nanowrimo Bravehearts Let’s hear Your Plots

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The first of November brings the beginning of a kind of madness for a large number of people the world over. They are an intrepid but overzealous lot who live in the false impression that they can stay normal and still win this whale of a writing comp known as Nanowrimo which is spoken of in awed accents in the writerly circles.
If you have participated earlier then you know that the words ‘crazy’ and ‘Nanowrimo’ are synonyms. Have you been still lost to reason enough to participate? Well, I have anyway. I confess, I couldn’t resist it. It’s crazy chaos but it helped me finish two writing projects, one of which is now published! That is Book2 in the Princesses Saga, The Eligible Princess.

So I’m prepared for a mad racy November.

Are you? 🙂

I’m going to take a shot on writing my new historical, the third in the Princesses Saga, that is the story of warrior princess Liya. Keep checking back here for updates 🙂

If you are bitten the bullet as well, then you must have some idea of what you want to write. Let’s hear what you have planned or plotted till now. In the comments, you can share the blurb, outline or synopsis or even just jntroduce the characters. Let us know what you are going to be writing for Nanowrimo.
All the best, Nanowrimo bravehearts! Keep at it and you will win the day! 🙂

Just Write. How??? Seven Tips to Get Your Writing into Gear

Recently I had to face several changes at workplace. They meant having to put in more hours at work. It has become harder to find quality family time, let alone leisure. In this upheaval, guess what got pushed to the bottom of the priority list? Writing.
We are often told: Just write. But finding time and inspiration is the hardest thing to deal with if you are not a full time writer. So this post is mainly for people who are struggling to handle writing as a secondary career.
It’s relatively easy to stare at a blank screen, munching popcorn or nibbling cookies, when you have the whole day stretching out in front of you. Ideas pour in with speed, in a relaxed mind. But when you are feeling frazzled, forgetting which lid to put on which jar, running behind on daily chores, should you give up writing?
Well, I don’t plan to. I’m going to take some time off it certainly, but not too much. When you are busy, even when you get the time, it’s hard to feel inspired to write. A movie or even channel surfing is far easier on the mind than facing the nerve wracking ordeal of world building, character charting or smoothing out plot holes.

Sometimes I feel Just Write is a piece of advice that wasn’t meant for me. Have you had those days? It’s okay for experienced writers to say show up at your desk like writing is a job. But when you can’t wade through ‘life things’ to even get to the desk? What then?

Let’s face it. Writing takes time to become profitable. If you don’t have the luxury of not having to work, with the present publishing scene you can’t just quit your job to write. Writing isn’t like any other career change. It requires patience and luck.

I have been thinking about all this when my routine went haywire. Here’s what I have found to make writing work for me.

Get in the mood.
It’s best to have your writing corner marked out. Have some space that is just for writing. When you have just half an hour or fifteen minutes, you don’t want to spend it looking for your laptop and searching for your inspiration board. The second reason the writing corner is useful is it sends out a clear message of Do not Disturb. In time, your family will learn to respect that and give you more of those precious writing minutes.

Connect with nature. Walk. Even stroll. Take some time to listen to the bird song and eye the green colour. There is a reason why they say green is restful. It allows you to go back to the wild where we all came from. When the demands of civilisation impose, take a few minutes to escape and smell the roses. Or even lilies. Or hibicus. Take your pick. It will boost your creativity by nourishing your subconscious.

Read. It’s very important to let the thoughts of other authors, their story craft or even the sentence structure to seep into your mind. It allows you to pick out words which you want when you want them. It helps you to hone your characters and your story craft.

Discipline. Are you reaching out for the candy crush icon on your phone more than for the keyboard? It’s okay to be mindless once in a while but don’t get sucked into laziness. Give yourself a pep talk and open your wip file. Don’t give yourself the excuse of just one more try. Or ten minutes more on social media. You need to get writing Now.

Don’t add to your stress. Don’t make unrealistic goals. If you can hardly make time to write, there’s no point in creating a deadline for yourself. If you are busy, give yourself points for even 250 words per day. You’ll be surprised how they add up. Or you can do what I did. Took up editing of an old work. If you’re feeling too rushed to write, take time to hone your editing skills. Always handy to have them.

Establish a routine. Routine are the best way to get things done. If you write 500 words after lunch for a week, you’ll find yourself doing it automatically. Pick a time when you are likely to be undisturbed. Stick to it.

Think of it as an escape. When life gets overwhelmingly busy, writing can offer a beautiful calmness. Don’t make it into a chore. Rather think of it as taking time off and putting your feet up. Don’t go after serious earthshaking plots. Learn to enjoy and narrate whatever pops into your mind. You can chisel and carve later.

Hope this will help the writer in the busy person you have become to emerge from hiding.

What are your tips to get going when life gets busy? How do you balance ‘life’ things with writing time?
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