Chapter Chop


This is by way of an update. I started writing my new novel, which has the working title of “Memorial Day Freight” about a week-and-a-half ago. Actually, the more I think of that title, the less I like it. I’m open to suggestions. Anyway, I’m up to chapter seven – round about the twenty-thousand-word mark. That’s pretty good going for me. I had some days where I hammered away at it and other days that were a trifle more difficult.

I had to stop and take a good, long, hard look at the synopsis though. What I found was that, so far, the chapters tended to come out at about 3,000 words each – give or take. The chapters generally have two sections in them with a break in the middle. The first half of the chapter will deal with what happens to one character, while the second updates the reader on what is happening to another. However, when I looked at some of the later chapters in the synopsis – ie the ones I haven’t written yet – I discovered that they only had enough material in them to make up half a chapter – in other words one section rather than two. I trust I make myself obscure.

Anyway, that got me thinking. Why have each chapter at 3k words? Why have two parts to a chapter? The conclusion I came to was – habit. I’m just used to having chapters of a particular length – somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 words. Why can’t I just make each subsection a chapter in its own right? That would make the chapters an average of 1,500 long. I can’t think of any plausible argument against this, except it would be a slight hassle renumbering chapters in the synopsis and I would end up with around 55 chapters rather than 28.

So I’ll give it a try. If I think of any major impediments I can always regroup to make larger chapters again. I’ll let you know how it goes. If anyone has any thoughts on this I’d be thrilled to hear them.