Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Advice on Chapters

It seems like a lot of writers are worried about the lengths of their chapters. What's considered too long, too short? What's just-right?

The good thing here is that the answer is short and sweet: there is no ideal chapter length. As long as all of your chapters are reasonably consistent (i.e. don't have one chapter take fifty pages and another take five), you'll be just fine.

Some books, like Maximum Ride, for example, have very short chapters. Many of these chapters have two to four pages. I've heard that Stephen King wrote a chapter that had only four words. Having short chapters like this makes the story seem like it moves along more quickly, highlighting the feelings of action and suspense. Some books, on the other hand, could have chapters up to fifty pages in length. This is fine, too. It highlights the complexity of the story, and breaks it up into broad pieces that each have something a little different.

The one thing to remember with chapters is that you never want to end in safe place. When you're reading a book, you want a convenient place to put it down, right? You're not going to stop reading in the middle of an action sequence or when something important is about to be revealed. You want to put it down in a place that's comfortable and has little or no tension.

Because of this, you don't want to end your chapter in a "safe" spot. Don't end with the protagonist contemplating recent events before she turns out the light to go to sleep. Instead, end with your main character dangling off the edge of a cliff. If you end every chapter with a moment of suspense, readers won't want to put your book down.

"Safe" doesn't necessarily mean that the MC is safe from space aliens or whatever. The character could be physically safe, but maybe the chapter ends with the revelation that the captain of the space aliens is actually her ex-boyfriend, or something. And action doesn't have to be life-threatening, either. It could also mean a heated argument, a love scene, etc.

Just remember: when you write a book, your goal is to write something that your readers can't put down. If you end each chapter with something exciting, they'll want to stay up half the night saying "one more more chapter..."

Originally spotted at The Epic, the Awesome, and the Random.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Inkie Interview- Kristin

Hey guys! So, we're back with "Inkie Interviews" (although really, anyone who wants to be interviewed can). I haven't done these since the  shutdown of Inkpop, but since I'm in contact with most of the Inkies again, I've started these back up. 

So our first interviewee of the summer is, Kristin, who will also be blogging with us. 

What story(ies) are you writing and what are they about? 
I am writing multiple stories at the moment. Hollow involves a soul sucking tree, family issues, life or death situations, kidnappings, choices, secret agencies, and all that jazz. Tearing Through The Light is about a girl who is capable of controlling oceans, and is being haunted by a ghost who wants her to use her power for evil. Falling will most likely be a novel in verse, and it is about a popular girl who is secretly depressed. Horizon is a fantasy novel that takes place in another world.

What is your favorite genres to write? 
I prefer to write paranormal and fantasy.

Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? What was it about? 
I remember it, but not in exact detail. It was a crappy piece I wrote in grade one.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 
No. I just realized I wanted to be a writer about a year or two ago. Before that, I wanted to be a teacher (I still do) or a counsellor. 

What do you do when you get Writer's Block? 
I eat food and watch weird videos and talk with my friends.

Is there a certain time when you write best?
Night, but I'm usually asleep then :P

If you could have anything as a major in college, what would it be?

What is your favorite place to be and why?
Probably camping in Jasper. It's nice to be surrounded by mountains, away from civilization, roasting marshmallows every night, and just roughing it.

And think fast!

Pizza or Desert Pizza?
Dessert pizza

Bananas or Strawberries?

Working in McDonalds or Dairy Queen?
Dairy Queen

Movies or TV Shows?
TV shows

Thanks so much, Kristin, for joining us today! It was great fun! 

If you're a writer or anyone else you know who is and would like to be interviewed, don't hesitate to be contact us! 


Also: If anyone knows how to fix the banner on top, I'd greatly appreciated it if you would contact me. I would like it to fill up the whole width of the front instead of partly filling it up. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Get In Late, Get Out Early

For awhile now, I've found myself giving the same piece of writing advice over and over. Finally, I've decided to just write up a whole post about it.

When do you start your first scene? How do you start it? How do you know when to end a scene?

For questions like these, go by this rule: Get in as late as you possibly can, and get out as early as you possibly can.

What this means is that you shouldn't start your book (or your first scene, or any scene) any earlier than you need to. When does the action start? When does the essential plot problem come into play? When is your inciting incident? Start here, and not a minute sooner.

For example, say I'm writing a book about Fred, a high school student who wants to be a detective. His goal in the story is to solve the mystery of who stole his friend's iPad (all my plot-building power goes into my actual books, so I have no decent plots to use as examples). One morning, he gets up and takes a shower. He gets dressed and grabs a poptart on his way out the door. He picks up his friend Jason, and they have a lengthy discussion on the merits of Firefox vs. Google Chrome. When he gets to school, he meets up with his other friend, Bob. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a dark shadow appear, snatch the iPad out of Bob's backpack, and disappear again.

This is where you should start your story, right at that moment where he sees that sketchy shadow. That's when the real plot begins. The scene where he drives Jason to school isn't needed. It's part of Fred's life, yes, but it's not part of the plot. It's not needed.

This same principle applies to every scene you write. Start it as late as you possibly can, while still having it make sense. This, then, ties into the next part of this in-late-out-early rule. When you're finishing a scene, get out as early as possible. What is the earliest point you can end this scene without omitting any crucial elements? This is where it should end.

This goes for the end of the entire book, too. You have a little more room to work here, but you should generally follow the same rule. Don't let your ending drag. This is probably another post for another time, so I won't get in too deep on this. But if the main plot of your story has ended, and all loose ends have been wrapped up, don't keep going. Stop before your readers start losing interest.

Get in late, get out early. I don't even remember where I first heard this, but it's proved to be one of the best pieces of advice I've received. Don't start any earlier than you need to, and don't keep going after everything has been wrapped up. 
Originally posted at The Epic, the Awesome, and the Random.