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Chapters!

Well, hey there! Today’s post is for novelists.

So. You have your manuscript. You have your author bio, and your cover is all set. You have your synopsis – what comes next?

If you haven’t already edited your manuscript, that is the next step. Check out some earlier posts on editing ("Editing, editing, editing!" and "So you want to edit even more?"), for more encouragement on the editing process.

And if that’s you, right now, then keep on editing! I know it’s hard, but it will be worth it.

But if you are all good with your editing, then CELEBRATE! I mean it. Each time you make progress, you should celebrate, dear one. You should. So, if you’re done editing, celebrate! WOOT WOOT!

But if you’re all done with everything else I’ve mentioned, then let’s talk chapters.

Chapters! Novels have chapters. Most novels have chapters because reading a long block of text without a single break of any kind is exhausting. That’s why chapters were invented. To give your reader a break.

Maybe you don’t want to add chapters into your book – then that’s up to you. But in my experience, most novels have chapters, and people seem to like chapters.

But how to break up your work into chapters? I know, it’s hard. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it when I had to break up Undaunted, but it becomes easier when you remember this: break chapters at natural breaks. For Undaunted, I usually broke into a new chapter each time I moved from the past to the present. That way, I wouldn’t get confused, and neither would my readers.

I also tried to break up the text whenever something significant happened – or right before something significant happened.

If you’re reading your manuscript, and you find a section that seems too long, and you are getting tired from reading, you may need to make a natural break.

I’m not saying that with every character change or every ten pages you need to break it into a chapter. Each book is different. For example, I have a couple of chapters that are literally two lines. I did that to make a point; those short chapters are usually because a significant event has happened.

You know your book, beloved. Where do you think you need to break it up? It doesn’t have to be a science, beloved, but make it make sense. A new chapter shouldn’t happen in the middle of a conversation (in my opinion).

Divide your manuscript up into natural breaks. If there’s a significant event happening in the very next paragraph, break it up. If in one paragraph, a girl has just found out that she’s pregnant and then the next paragraph is her telling her family, maybe there should be a chapter break in between these events.

If a section seems too long, break it up. If you keep moving back and forth between the past or present, break it up every time you change. If you have multiple characters and you want to keep things clear, then split it into chapters.

I just recommend chapter splits because it does keep the reader from getting tired, and it does give your reader a chance to take a break.

And that is my advice for you today, beloved. Think about adding chapters into your novel. And remember, you are deeply loved.



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