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Chapter Layout

            Hello, welcome back.

Chances are if you are writing a book you have a lot of questions. That is natural, when I was starting out, I had plenty of questions to answer them. I read books about writing novels. These writers told a reader how to write, but here is the truth the book workshops are a scam. They perpetuate this lie that everyone has this creative spirit inside that needs to be refined.  In my opinion I believe most people will never get beyond writing papers in college. That is because they are stressed by their daily lives, but also because many are not creative enough.

                I am very creative. When I write I immerse myself in my plot and characters. When writing the dialogue between characters I become each one of the characters. This acting and play helps to give enriching and realistic conversations between characters. I feel most adults lose this imaginary ability, which is why they are unable to finish novels. I have spoken to a few people who have said they have stopped writing their books after 20,000 words. There are many reasons happens, some stop because the plot stop making sense, or the reader loses their connection to the characters.

                Whatever the reason they stop writing there is a common theme that occurs among many that stop writing, perhaps reading the dialog out loud between characters sounds uncomfortable. That is probably because the words are truly awkward to hear spoken. Hearing a female character issuing her lover a proclamation that sounds like it is read by a computer can be off putting. But think about it, the words haven’t been worked on yet,

                That is why dialogue should be looked at a second time. If you are stuck while writing now do the following. Finish the current chapter no matter what, get it to about 2,200 words keep it under 2,600 because you will be adding much more depth, throw in all the details you can, use filler sentences to complete sections if needed. Once you add more enriching dialogue your chapter length will grow keep in mind a writer never wants a chapter over 7,000 words!  By tackling the dialogue line by line you will push out rounded conversation, continue to read the dialogue out loud, if it is a female character speaking, speak in a female tone, if the character is a male with a high pitched voice than you are going to have to adjust. Eventually the conversations will appear less robotic and more fluid and natural.  

                When should you add dialogue into a scene is totally dependent on the author. I have started stories with dialogue, which is actually a strong opening statement to make, it puts the cards on the table, then again you are gambling that the reader will keep flipping pages based on that first line. I have also closed a novel with dialogue which can easily transition you into a sequel, or at the very least hint at one. Luckily if they are turning the last page chances are you won’t have to work hard to sell them another book. Why do you think that many modern publishers add a first chapter of the next in the series at the end. It is not a treat for the reader but a tease to make you wait for it.

                When starting a book should the author have an idea of how many chapters they will write? The answer is complicated. Yes, you will have an idea and chances are you will be either a chapter above or short of your goal. Sometimes however books need more space, that space needs to be relevant to the plot not filler or dull explanations of character appearances. Recently while working on the Fallen Continent book five, I was shocked at the amount of writing still to go. I have 15 chapters written between 67,000 words. Originally I set out to write 26-30 chapters, halfway to my goal I am focused because this is the part of the book that a writer lives for, the plot is set, the chemistry between the characters is established, most of all the bond between my characters and myself is at its strongest. This is where you can quicken the writing pace, still don’t write more than an extra chapter per week, remember in the morning you have to comb through the words from the previous day.

                When in the writers high phase, it is important to stay on task, keeping relevant to the plot and themes you have created.

                A thirty-chapter book should take you fifteen to twenty weeks to write if your diligent, patient and task oriented, take your book part by part. Everyone comes up with their own system. Some like to write out a climatic scene for their book, (working from the middle out). I have done that, but I prefer to start at the beginning and work from north to south.

                To sum up my opinion piece, I think that to be a fiction novelist you need to have a large reserve of imagination which is something that the average adult working 9-5 lacks. Writing a novel is more than grammar lessons, there are people I know that have perfect grammar that can not finish a chapter. I have atrocious grammar & my handwriting looks like a doctors, yet somehow, I still finish novels and it is because I am creative, and love have a love for what I am writing about Writing is fun for me; it is not something I am going for attention or to make money. Although I get both of those things for it, I receive such a sense personal satisfaction finishing a novel, it drives my confidence through the roof and just when you say I am going to take a few weeks off of writing, that is when you next idea always strikes that is the curse or the gift of writing, your brain will become a lightning rod for inspiration ready to tackle the next challenge.