Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words March 23, 2009

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Chapter Breaks – Stepping Stones in a Story

“Why Divide Your Book Into Chapters?” was asked of the Magical Word crew in 2009, and David B. Coe responded giving insight into how books are structured.

The most direct answer is seeing all those words strung together without any breaks exhausts a reader before they even start.

The working answer is writers get exhausted thinking about writing all those words at once. For plotters, outlines and chapters can walk hand-in-hand.

The more subtle answer is dividing the work up provides clues and prompts to a reader’s mind which can be exploited by authors. 

Breaking down the basics from the post:

  1. Maintaining narrative flow: POV changes, jumps in time
  2. Escalating narrative tension: changing narrative threads, critical beats/cliffhangers
  3. Keeping readers interested: provides breaks to take care of business, gives chunks to think about as a unit
  4. (From Comments) Selling points: editors ask for a chapter, being able to offer the first chapter for free
  5. (From Comments) Editing for word count: helps visualize word count
  6. (From Comments) Voice: length of chapter can affect the narrative voice, helps focus
  7. (From Comments) Serialization: offering the story via podcast, magazine, etc requires breaking things into narrative chunks but remaining true to a complete novel.

If you would like to read the full post and related comments, go here: http://www.magicalwords.net/david-b-coe/why-divide-your-book-into-chapters/