Anonymous asked: Do you have any advice for trying to extend the chapters in a WIP? My chapters always seem so short and full of dialogue, and I’ve given all the description/narration I possibly can for that moment.
We think we can help you here. As you’ll see, pretty much all of this is up to your discretion, but there is some advice I can give to guide you.
First, for the folks at home, let’s define WIP, because I had no idea what it meant myself.
WIP (n): “Work in progress”; an unfinished story, which could be anywhere from updating regularly to assumed scrapped.
Ah! Now that we’re on the same page, let’s examine the word chapter.
Chapter (n): A main division of a book, typically with a number or title.
The definition of a chapter is not one that holds much literary weight, which is a fact completely critical to your use of chapters. Chapters can be whatever you define as “main”. Besides, all of your work is divided into paragraphs and sentences, and who decides where those go with relative ease? You do. Chapters are hardly any different.
The use of chapters is just one more element of the work that you control. In fiction, you decide absolutely everything that happens, including the length of chapters. Literature is not regulated.
That is not an adequate way of representing the absolute horror of the death of this character’s grandmother (unless you’re going for black humor). It ruins any sensitivity that your character has as well as demonstrates his or her unprecedented affinity for crackers and/or a great indifference towards his or her grandmother. If that’s what you’re trying to show in your character, by all means, use “then”. If not, try something much larger and drawn out. If you still want the shock value of this person’s death, you can arrange your character hearing the news via phone call, or dropping by her apartment and finding her on the floor. Remember, you’re running the show, you can put the characters where you need them.“I was having a bad day. First, I ran out of crackers. Then, my grandmother died.”
The cliffhanger is a great way to end a chapter. Sometimes, however, in lower stress situations (especially near the beginning of the story), the chapter gets too long and the scene is over. Cut it there without a cliffhanger. No harm done.The chapter should end right at the crucial moment. it is good to have each chapter finish with a question that will not be answered until a following chapter… Chapters that split the action and end at a crucial point are called “cliffhangers.” (x)
At the end of the day, it’s all up to you. You’re the storyteller. You invented all of this, so you might as well invent how the story is divided up. If you need things to flow more organically, move some scenes around. Although it’s all fake, it should (unless this is pivotal to your premise) feel somewhat natural so you don’t lose your readers along the way.
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