Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 61 - Story Breaks

When I am writing I have a tendency to write continuously without taking time to separate for chapter breaks. I have gotten better about it in my recent books but I still find when I am editing there are spots that seem like a serious shift in focus which would be an obvious chapter break. It is one of the reasons the editing process takes so long for me. I have a number of things I check for but I do each one as a separate run through so I can stay fully focused.

I got to thinking about the chapter breaks today as I was watching a movie on my DVR. Most movies I watch are on DVD or in the theater but if there was one I liked and it comes on television I will record it to watch later. While I was laughing along with the comedy of my movie this morning it struck me about the timing of the commercial breaks. Of course there is a certain amount of time advertisers expect their marketing to be displayed in but it is more than eighteen minutes of a movie before they cut to commercial. The amount of time ranges and the cut off points are chosen for the viewer to want to remain for the next segment. Chapters should be the same way.

There has never been a book I read where every chapter was fourteen pages long and ended on the right page to start the chapter fresh on the left page once you turned. They do not all start with dialogue or description and there is no solid formula for creating a novel. If there was we would all be bestsellers. Instead each book is unique and when we write (or in my case edit later) we find those right times for the breaks. 

We find the times when there is the natural pause but yet still leaves the reader wanting more. Sometimes it is not obvious but when we read through the pages there will be that feeling that tells us this is the spot. Just like watching the movie on television, there is a proper time for a commercial break that doesn't feel forced or abrupt. Books have those too. It is something I am working to improve but even now as I edit and rewrite Breathe I have found spots I thought were chapter breaks before but as I read through there are spots that feel more natural. I watch the movie of my book as it plays in my mind and think if it were showing on television, where would the commercials fit in.

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