I usually write about a chapter a day. It’s just how I work. Today I got to thinking though, what constitutes as the end of a chapter? How do you really know when it’s time to end one chapter and begin a new one?
A few books I have read, chapters end when the day ends. Others end a chapter at the end of a huge fight, or even in the middle of a fight. Those are really the worst, the ones that end in the middle of something, but it’s a good way to keep a reader reading, even if they have to be at work early in the morning and can’t stay up to read anymore.
For me, it seems that I will end a chapter when there is an end to the current scene, but leave a little information that keeps a reader interested enough to rush on to the next chapter.
Do you remember school, having to write paragraphs? I remember teachers trying to show me when to end a paragraph and start a new one. I’m not going to lie, I still have trouble with that sometimes. You just get on a roll writing and the next thing you know, you have this massive paragraph that will probably be broken down into a few paragraphs.
I don’t think there is a word count, or page count that is ideal for a chapter. I have read some books where chapters were two or three pages long. I have even seen a few books that had chapters throughout the book that were only a page long. It comes to question, why do we even worry about things like this?
I feel like writers get so caught up in “rules of writing” that we lose our own personal style. We get so worried about how long a paragraph should be (3-5 sentences according to school), how long a chapter should be, how long a book should be. We get caught up in word count and page count and not only lose our personal style, but we also lose our creativity and our story becomes a mess.
So what did I take out of all of this? Not to worry about if my chapter has ended in a proper place. Just write and get the story down, then go back and worry about where things should end and begin.
Before I was a writer I was a reader. As a reader I know what I like. I know how I like to see a chapter end. I love a cliff hanger at the end of a chapter and at the end of some books. I like short chapters, so I can read one chapter at a time and not get caught in the middle of a chapter when I get too sleepy to continue reading.
Maybe as writers we have forgotten what it is to be a reader. I read just as much as I write. A lot of authors suggest that, mainly Stephen King and he is my idol. My suggestion to my fellow writers is to remember what it is to be a reader. If you are writing something you don’t like, why would you share it with the readers of the world.
Do you have any tricks to ending a chapter?
NaNoWriMo Update: 18,241 Words