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.