Thursday, January 27, 2011

What I've Learned Lately

I'm a numbers person. Scratch that, I'm a words person, but words are even more fun when you attach numbers to them. I like to set goals and give myself imaginary gold stars when I achieve them. It's not easy. I mean, you have no idea how many stores I had to visit to find myself some imaginary gold stars for my goal charts. So here's what I've learned:

1. If you set goals, you're more likely to achieve them. I decided I wanted to write a thousand words a day. This does not mean I get to beat myself up if I only write 997, because that kind of thing hurts, and bruises are not productive. It means if I only write 400 words, I see if I can come up with another scene instead of giving up 'cause thinking hurts my brain too much.

2. I recently read Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams and Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Guess what I figured out? Their chapter lengths were never, ever the same. Not even remotely consistent. Whoa--you can make a sentence into a chapter if you want to? That's right, world. No hand is going to burst out of the computer monitor to punch my lights out for the offense of chapters that are too short. No, let's save beating myself up for those K minus three days when I must be punished. Chapters can be--get this--however long I want them to be! But don't count on it happening too often. We wouldn't want to let our readers down. They're all expecting nine or ten pages, you know. They're counting. Sure, they say. All that stuff about likeable characters, plot development, and intrigue and suspense? We don't need it 'cause we're busy counting the pages.
I'm not ready to commit to less than four pages yet, but after a few deep breaths and lots of therapy, I may be able to let my chapters go at eight and a half pages.

1 comment:

Maria Zannini said...

Isn't it funny the way we corner ourselves until we realize it's okay to write short chapters.

I learned that from James Patterson. Now, if a chapter needs only a few sentences, that's all it gets.