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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Knowing When To Stop

I strive to pass on bits of writing knowledge as they surface as understanding in my scatter brained OCD overloaded with useless crap of an over creative mind.
With my third book one of the primary elements that have surfaced as understanding is Knowing When to Stop.  Where should you stop one chapter and begin another?
I used to from School and Business believe you finish your thought or statement, conclude a situation at the end of your paper or assignment.
Your Book is not a business report or school assignment.  To conclude and wrap everything thing up at the end of a chapter is a very nice and tidy way of writing, but everything is done, everybody is happy, there is no urgency to start the new direction, new thought, or the next scene.  People may put your book down because everything is fine and it is a convenient stopping place.  People may not start that next chapter or finish reading your book.
We go to such extremes to write this book, choose the perfect title, and come up with that ever so important first line of the book, but the last paragraph or sentence of every chapter should be the precipice of the next mini climax!  You should end the chapter and leave the reader hanging, wanting, and needing to start that next chapter.  Create that situation where they want to cuss you the writer, because they do have a life to get back to, work to do, kids to feed, shopping, or maybe to get to bed and get some sleep, but you keep them reading just a little bit more.  You keep building suspense, dangling bait for them to turn the page, and have mini cliff hangers at the end of each chapter so they have to go a little bit further.
As a writer you have many things to develop in your craft, your writing, in your story.  Don't be anal, neat, and organized.  Think about your favorite authors, your favorite books, and most memorable stories, they are not neat and clean.  The author is continually bombarding you with new information, conflicts, desires, pressures, and builds it up to the point where all hell is breaking loose and several things are coming together all at once.  Each problem solved creates a myriad of new directions and challenges for the daunting characters.
So in conclusion, (This isn't my novel).
1.  Great Title
2.  Ever so important First Line, Hook your audience from the start!
3.  The Entire first part of your book should be stellar, out of the ball park awesome, because in today's fast paced society of info overload this is where you hook the reader or lose the reader, agent, or publisher!  For most books this is the make it, or break it part of your book, not the climax later in the story.  You have to not just hook them here, but in fishing terms, Set the Hook!  When readers will download the first part of your book for FREE to see if they like it or it catches their interest before the spend any money to actually purchase your book, this is where you sell your book!  It may be your only chance at a sale, or to get traditionally published!
4.  Make the last paragraph of each Chapter and especially the last sentence of each Chapter leave the reader wanting, screaming for more, create your highest points of tension exactly right there.  So they have to start that next chapter.
5.  I can only imagine if it was a print book and you could orchestrate exactly where the sentences fall on the page all the way through the book, you could do a lesser version of this at the bottom of each page.  With E-books and the way the book changes as the reader adjusts the fonts and size of fonts, this really will not work.  You can control the end of the Chapters by Knowing when to Stop.
Anybody who has read James Patterson's, Alex Cross novels can see great examples of this where he has some Chapters which are medium length and some which are extremely short.  The length and word count of your chapters doesn't matter to your reader.  The quality of your writing, the content, and the flow does matter!
They may cuss you for not being able to put it down and interrupting their lives regular activities because they had to finish reading your book.  They will definitely buy more of your books if you take your time and give them a great reading experience, take them somewhere new, and touch their hearts and souls along the way.
Keep Writing, Keep Learning, and have a great day!


J.L. Murphey said...

Ah young grasshopper, you have learned well.

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