1. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Starting a new chapter

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DBTate, Aug 20, 2011.

    Hey guys,

    Just curious as to what (generally speaking) demands a new chapter?

    If your MC was to begin a journey, however long or short, and you wished to cut out the actual journey itself, would a line space before a new paragraph suffice? (I typically use indented paragraphs).

    I am currently reading book two of the Inheritance series, and Paolini often uses a line space between paragraphs to indicate a new scene, in place of his normal indentation.

    I suppose making the following scene a new chapter would essentially make it a 'page turner', (in my case, the journey is suspenseful, being that it involves a consequence of death should they not make it back) however the scene preceding it is quite short, possibly only a page, and this seems downright wrong in my opinion.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    DBTate,

    There isn't really one 'right' answer as to whether to use a scene break within a chapter or to start a new chapter.

    It depends on the flow of the novel and the plotline. Shifts in time or perspective/POV are usually good places to start a new chapter. Going to bed in camp during a journey and then starting the next morning, a scene break may be correct. But if upon awakening, a major battle or turning point will occur soon after, then a new chapter might work.

    Sometimes it depends on how you end a section. Ending it with a reason for the reader to want to continue and see what happens next often lends itself better to a new chapter, but it really depends on the writer's style and what's happening.

    As you've started to do, read published works and study how various authors you enjoy reading have done it. When they opted for a scene break vs. a new chapter, and evaluate why you believe they did it. Find a pattern or reason that makes sense to apply to your writing style.

    For me, it's based mainly on gut feeling as a writer based on the flow of the story, how/why a scene ends and what's coming up next.

    Good luck moving forward.

    Terry
     
  3. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Thanks for your insight, I appreciate it.

    My dilemma is that both my introduction and the section of my first chapter that precedes my 'scene jump' are painfully short. The introduction I can handle, it is after all only an introduction.

    What remains of my first chapter should I start a new one for the following scene, is merely 400 words. I know that there is no official limit on a chapter's length, but this just seems too short.

    Perhaps the action is moving too fast? Though I feel that if I tried to fill the chapter with some more words, I would only lose quality.
    :confused:
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Some authors don't even use chapters in the first place. It is entirely up to you as an author as to when and if to use them. As TWErvin said, there is no right answer.
     
  5. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure a single blank line would jolt me enough to mentally jump to a new scenes. I think I would miss the break at least half the time.

    I have 6-8 scenes per chapter and divide the scenes with *** center and a blank line on either side. Some of my scenes are 300-400 words up to 1500, (although I have a few that are almost 3000).

    It would seem strange to have a chapter break after a few hundred words but James Patterson does it in his Maximum Ride series and it works (I personal find it a little annoying though).
     
  6. CSwolery
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    CSwolery Member

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    Think of a chapter as an hour long episode of a tv show. If it feels right in that sense to start a new chapter, do so. If not, don't. The most important thing is to remember that context is key to everything, so play it largely by ear.
     
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  7. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    I think the * will work nicely, as I don't believe it should be another chapter. Is there any particular process for using this, or again, is this for the author to decide him/herself?

    I used ***, a tab between each, and centred them. This seemed to create a nice break between scenes, and looked neat (I'm very fussy with the presentation of my writing).
     
  8. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    This is the best analongy I've ever heard for how to decide when a chapter break is needed.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    patterson's chapters are only 2-3 pages long, while michener's and clancy's run on seemingly forever...

    don't worry about how long/short yours are till you finish the book... then, when you read it over for the first edit, you'll know if they work, or not... and if not, you can rearrange them for a better read...
     
  10. The_NeverPen
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    The_NeverPen Member

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    I just read My Russian Love by Dan Franck. Many, if not most, of his chapters are a page or two long. If I were writing the book, I would have been tempted to condense the first 10 or so chapters into one, but now that I've read through the whole thing, I think it's fine the way it is.
     
  11. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    You should know, if not wait for the revisions.
     

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